"Incredible gravitas and presence and humanity. There's just so much intelligence to everything she does." - NPR, All Songs Considered
Dessa defies category--she is an intellectual with an international rap career and an inhaler in her backpack; a creative writer fascinated by philosophy and behavioral science; and a funny, charismatic performer dogged by blue moods and heartache. She's ferocious on stage and endearingly neurotic in the tour van. Her stunning literary debut memoir stitches together poignant insights on love, science, and language--a demonstration of just how far the mind can travel while the body is on a six-hour ride to the next gig.
In "The Fool That Bets Against Me," Dessa writes to Geico to request a commercial insurance policy for the broken heart that's helped her write so many sad songs. "A Ringing in the Ears" tells the story of her father building a wooden airplane in their backyard garage. In "Congratulations," she describes the challenge of recording a song for The Hamilton Mixtape in a Minneapolis basement, straining for a high note and hoping for a break. "Call off Your Ghost" chronicles the fascinating project she undertook with a team of neuroscientists to try and clinically excise romantic feelings for an old flame. Her writing is infused with scientific research, dry wit, a philosophical perspective, and an abiding tenderness for the people she tours with and the people she leaves behind to be on the road.
My Own Devices is an uncompromising and candid account of a life in motion, in music, and in love. Dessa is as compelling on the page as she is onstage, making My Own Devices the debut of a unique and deft literary voice.
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“Dessa has captured the punishing beauty of untenable love and touring, states of being that both require a stubborn, romantic heart.” --Tegan and Sara
“I found myself laughing with almost every page, often because the writing was funny, but even more often out of sheer delight at someone using the English language so audaciously well. Dessa has an essayist’s eye and a rapper’s virtuosity, and she’s going to conquer the world.” --Joseph Fink, author of Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn't Dead
“Dessa is a master of putting words to our feelings, even the ones that are hardest to pinpoint. This book is her deftest work: an articulation of the feelings that haunt so many of us: the thrill of pursuing everything you want, the terror of realizing you’re racing against an invisible clock, and the ache of loving a person you probably shouldn’t. I read it cover to cover — twice — and dogeared so many pages it would be easier to find the pages I *hadn’t* marked. A beautiful book.” --Nora McInerny, Author and host, Terrible, Thanks for Asking