In this memoir of his Reagan-era adolescence, Rob Sheffield shows no shame in exposing his earnest love for the ’80s. Most of the modern world may only revisit the decade for cheap laughs (see Family Guy, every episode of), but Sheffield holds fast to the calescent torch he carries for the decade, even at the risk of alienating any readers who don’t consider John Hughes to be ‘Hollywood’s most famous director’.
Composed of a string of youthful anecdotes symbiotically bonded to songs (he used a similar technique for his first book, Love Is a Mix Tape), Talking to Girls About Duran Duran is strongest when the music complements the author’s anecdotes, rather than dominating the conversation. Recalling his days as a high-school wrestler, he compellingly contrasts the joys of warming up to the Rolling Stones with the unpleasantries of involuntary male bodily responses during the sport. Still, Sheffield, a Rolling Stone contributor, is first and foremost a music (and TV) writer, so his passion for the songs of his youth that bleeds through on almost every page is understandable. His relationships with the music of David Bowie or The Smiths seem just as passionate as his entrancements with the opposite sex.
While the soundtrack is always in flux, the trials of teendom are universal, and it’s in balancing these two concepts that Sheffield finds his place. Taken just as a memoir or solely as a retrospective of the pop tunes of the Miami Vice years, it would languish among countless similar volumes, but by melding them together, the author has created a time capsule of youth in the ’80s complete with its own playlist – his very own John Hughes movie.