The former Throwing Muse and part-time New Orleanian will read from and sign her new book, "Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt" tonight at Octavia Books.

vic chesnutt cover art for my spilt milk
"Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt" by Kristin Hersh

In Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt, Kristin Hersh talks to the late Vic Chesnutt for 150 pages, going over their friendship since the 1990s, tracing it to Chesnutt's suicide in 2009. Both had developed strong reputations as respected songwriters, Hersh as the founder of the alternative rock band Throwing Muses, and Chesnutt under his own name as a chronicler of darkness--someone whose pain was internal as well as external since he was a parapalegic after a car accident in 1983. Hersh's account of the ups and downs in their relationship is understandably but never simply anguished. She goes through the good times and bad to see where something could have been done to come to a different end.

Hersh will read from and sign copies of Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt tonight at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books. The book portrays Chesnutt as more difficult than you might expect in a book sending off a friend, but Hersh's affection for him is never in doubt, even when she depicts him as being a prick. Physical and emotional pain was central to Chesnutt's world, and his choice to make them his muses meaant that his music was beloved in specific circles but ignored the larger ones that might have helped him out of financial hardship.

Needless to say, they could also make him hard to be around, and Hersh chronicles some of their sparring matches without any sweetening. At first it's jarring, but at some point you realize that this was their dance, and as contentious as it could be, it was also their thing. It may be a dance, but he's dancing with me.