Book Review: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield

Author: Rob Sheffield
Title: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut
Publication Info: New York : Penguin Group (USA), 2010.
ISBN: 9780525951568
Summary/Review: Sheffield, a music critic for Rolling Stone, writes an amusing and touching depiction of his life growing up in the 1980s with each chapter built around a song from that misunderstood decade.  Sheffield stands out from the stereotypical music critic as he declares a true love for a lot of this music, even the songs and bands he knows aren’t very good.  The book resonates with me because so much of his life story is similar to my own.  We both grew up in the 80s fascinated with the music and culture of the decade, we lived in New England suburbs, we had Irish-American families, we were unusually active in the Catholic church at a young age, we had sisters who influenced us greatly (he has three younger sisters, I have one older sister) and we went to college in Virginia (I went to William & Mary for undergrad, while Sheffield went to University of Virginia for graduate studies).  Perhaps the most eerie similarities are when he (like I) works at a Harvard University library and he shares a house with his grandfather in the same neighborhood, and possibly even the same street, where I now live.  So, if I never write my own biography, this book will give you the gist.  Even if you have nothing in common with Sheffield I recommend this book for Sheffield’s humor, cheerful optimism, and deep love for the 1980s.

Favorite Passages:

“When I started out as a music journalist, at the end of the 1980s, it was generally assumed that we were living through the lamest music era the world would ever see.  But those were also the years when hip-hop exploded, beatbox disco soared, indie rock took off, and new wave invented a new language of teen angst.  All sorts of futuristic electronic music machines offered obnoxious noises for plundering.  All kind of bold feminist ideas were inspiring pop stars to play around with gender roles and sexual politics, on a lever that would have been unthinkable just a few years earlier.”  p. 4


Recommended BooksAmerican Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent, Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby and How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music by Elijah Wald.

Rating: ****1/2

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