So what do you think—have you been enjoying Talking to Girls about Duran Duran? I sure have. I’m actually reading ahead! That’s near unheard of for me (if I’m not into a book, it’s like slogging through mud to finish it. In fact, I usually don’t finish it). I have been reading largely on my commute to and from work, and I’m sure my fellow PATH train passengers think I’m crazy because I keep bursting out laughing.
As I was looking over our first group of chapters, it occurred to me that it’s a little weird to discuss a memoir—much different, I think, from discussing a work of fiction. It’s not as if we can wish the writer had done this or that differently with the plot, seeing as he lived it, or discuss the characterization of the people in the book, since they actually exist.
That’s why I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best way to discuss this nonfiction book. How do you think our conversations about the book would work best?
While we figure that out for the next two sections, I’ll tell you what I’m liking so far: I feel like I’d want to be Rob Sheffield’s friend if we were in high school together. He’s very relatable—kind of that nerdy, super-smart kid who is so funny and insightful that you just want to talk to him on the phone all night. And set him up with one of your friends. I love how Sheffield portrays himself as, well, to quote him, the “Thin White Douche.” Except that he’s not. He’s sensitive and forthright and really real (contrast that with teenage boys who are lewd and smelly and too cool for school). I feel like I’m getting a look into the psyche of the teenage male, and when you’re a teenage girl, that is territory you never get to enter! Like I said, I’d totally want to be his friend. How about you—can you relate to Sheffield at all?
The other thing that I am loving is Sheffield’s humor and honesty. He’s funny. Really funny! And so honest that it’s moving. Particularly funny/touching to me:
- The “ever-increasing list of services [he] would be called upon to provide” to girls, including reaching things in high places, walking to cars (love this!), saving a seat (“I do not have what you would call a ‘seat-saving personality’” he says, “i.e., I am nowhere near chatty enough to keep having the same two-line conversation with fifty people [‘Yes, someone’s sitting here. She’ll be right back.’]”), and asking if she got a haircut (“If someone I knew asked me this question every other week, I would think there was something wrong with their cognitive process.”).
- The entire “She’s So Cold” chapter about Sheffield’s wrestling career (“No Irish mother should ever have to witness her firstborn getting bodyslammed while wearing a plastic mouthguard”). I love how Sheffield totally ran with his, well, less-than-stellar wrestling skills. You just have to love a kid who sucks at a sport but is still 100% committed and enthusiastic, as he himself notes.
- The fact that he completely embraces every band or new sound or movement. That he looks to the music for advice, really. There’s an innocence there that’s touching—he puts his total faith and belief in every song/band/genre that he’s into at the time and really trusts his idols.
- Hall & Oates. Especially how he tells us that you can tell what kind of idiot you are by the Hall & Oates song you love and how, when he read an interview with Daryl Hall where the singer talks about sex, he thought “Wait, that doesn’t mean he’s actually had premarital sex, does it?” Again, the innocence that’s completely endearing.
Are you finding the book funny and touching? If so, which parts? What are some of your favorite lines? And if not, how do you find it so far?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Meet back here next Friday to discuss everything up to The Smiths “Ask”!
P.S.—Did you notice that Simon LeBon is quoted on the back cover?