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My Own Devices


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Witty and moving, this debut memoir in essays from the dynamic rapper and singer Dessa, is a candid account of her life in the van as a hard-touring musician, her determination to beat long odds to make a name for herself as a performing artist, and her struggle to fall out of love with someone in her band.

About the Author

Dessa is a rapper, a singer, and an essayist with a hip-hop crew called Doomtree. The seven-member collective has traveled the country and the world together sharing hotel beds, spotlights, and head colds. She's landed on the Billboard Top 200 list as a solo artist (Parts of Speech), as a Doomtree member (All Hands), and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. She has made her career by bucking traditional genre designations-rapping at rock festivals, co-composing for a full choir, and performing alongside a full orchestra. As a writer, she's contributed to the New York Times Magazine, MPR, the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, literary journals across the country, and has published two short collections of poetry and essays. She grew up in Minneapolis as the daughter of a glider pilot (and former lute player) and a Bronx-born cattlewoman (and former public relations consultant). She now splits her time between New York City, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit.


Praise for My Own Devices

"[Dessa is] a natural at the written word. There's not an essay in My Own Devices that's less than fascinating... [My Own Devices] is funny, heartbreaking and brilliantly written, and very possibly the best memoir by a musician since Patti Smith's Just Kids." --Star Tribune

"Dessa has captured the punishing beauty of untenable love and touring, states of being that both require a stubborn, romantic heart."--Tegan and Sara "Dessa's words are an articulation of the universal." --MN Daily "In a witty, well-researched collection of essays, the multidisciplinary creator delves into heartache, philosophy, and science from an artistic perspective." --The Austin Chronicle "I'm not exaggerating when I say Dessa's words will change your life."--HelloGiggles "My Own Devices is filled with... not just wit, candor and intelligence, but also the depth normally associated with longer works." --amNewYork

"Well-written and full of art and science, a really enjoyable read." --Angela Moon, Publisher's Weekly "My Own Devices is more universal than most performer bios and more lyrical than many celebrity essay collections, as sharp and witty as the best magazine pieces." --Shelf Awareness

"As with any good memoir, Dessa's writing mingles the specific and the universal."--City Pages "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 "Dessa has consistently transcended conventional stereotyping, and her writing should command interest even from readers who know nothing of her work with the Doomtree collective and her solo releases."--Kirkus Reviews

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