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Talking to Girls about Duran Duran, Rob Sheffield


Although this book is a biography and memoir by genre, it could easily fit onto the shelf with Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity,” “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Adventure,” and other favourite fiction of music lovers and awkward teens. Sheffield, who also wrote “Love is a Mix Tape,” is one of those down-to-earth, conversational writers who happens to know A LOT about music. And fortunately for us, he decided to write a second book — this one focusing on music of the eighties and why every girl then seemed to have a crush on the bassist of Duran Duran.

Each chapter is titled with a song, “some of my favorite ’80s relic songs that warped my brain with dubious ideas, boneheaded goals, laughable hopes, and timeless mysteries,” ranging from the Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Bonnie Tyler and Madonna; the stories in each chapter usually have something, somehow, to do with the song. Rob’s sisters, Tracey, Ann, and Caroline each make frequent appearances, usually helping Rob interpret some foreign action or habit of the female, such as their odd propensity for having toilet paper on the “the little rolling thing” instead of on the sink counter. Some of the lessons Rob learns are laughable, such as boyfriend lessons from Ray Parker Jr.’s “A Woman Needs Love,” and the fact that “rock epics are for boys; pop hits are for girls;” and some are mildly profound: “I Want the One I Can’t Have and It’s Driving Me Mad: one hundred percent of teenagers dream about making out, but they only dream about making out with 5 percent of other teenagers. This means our dreams and our realities are barely on speaking terms, so we look forward to making out with people who aren’t real, keeping us in a nearly universal state of teen frustration. It screws us up for the rest of our lives, as we keep hoping for the unattainable.”

Sheffield has written a funny, readable, and highly entertaining memoir which will appeal to a wide range of people — those who have their own horror stories revolving around the ’80s, to those who just have teenage horror stories. Recommended.

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