In theory, I should have loved Talking to Girls About Duran Duran. It’s about rock journalist Rob Sheffield’s relationships with various 80s songs and bands, and the role that they played in his teen and early adult years. 80s music and its role in one’s formative years? Sign me up!! OK, so maybe I didn’t really like Sheffield’s first book, Love is a Mix Tape (reviewed here), but I thought that I’d give him another chance, give the subject matter.
Each chapter of Talking to Girls about Duran Duran focuses on a different song. But with the exception of the last chapter, there was often almost no nexus between the song and the subject matter of the chapter. In fact, it was often hard to figure out the subject matter of the chapters, period. Sheffield’s writing meanders from topic to topic with little rhyme or reason. It’s like he took a whole list of random memories from his teen years and grouped them roughly by year and then wrote about them in stream-of-consciousness. Occasionally, he’d mention the song in the chapter title, but sometimes only briefly and not until the end of the chapter.
The last chapter gave me a glimpse of what this book could have been. In that chapter, Sheffield focuses on Duran Duran and explores the reasons for the band’s unexpected longevity. (Here’s a hint – girls love them, even when those girls are my age.) I wish the whole book had been like that. I guess I wanted to hear less about Sheffield’s life in Boston with his sisters and random crushes and more about the bands that loosely inspired the book. He is clearly a knowledgeable music critic – I would rather read his criticism than his memoirs.
I really wanted to like Talking to Girls about Duran Duran. Sadly, I didn’t. Thankfully, it was a library copy, and it will be returned tomorrow.