Fashion Book: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran
Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield’s first book, Love is a Mixtape, is one of my favorite nonfiction reads of recent years. It is both an ode to his first wife, Renee, who died at a tragically young age, and to the music that bound them together. I’ve recommended the book to every music fan I know, but I would just as quickly recommend it to anyone who’s ever been in love.
In Talking to Girls about Duran Duran we see Sheffield during his adolescence, growing up worshiping New Wave and MTV in a Boston suburb. Each chapter functions as an essay with a different 80s song as the focus. The essays are funny, heartfelt, and poignant. It’s clear that Sheffield is passionate about music, but the wonderful thing about this book is that there is just enough music geek without coming across as pretentious or creepy. He’s not afraid to admit he loved Debbie Gibson or write an essay about the New Kids on the Block phenomenon. More respectable bands like the Smiths and the Replacements are here too, but the book is at its most fun when waxing poetic about the cassingle, Flock of Seagulls hair, or the thrill of sitting in an ice cream truck in traffic on Rt. 93, rocking out to 80s pop.
Though I spent my critical “coming-of-age” years in the 90s, I remember the 80s fondly, and was even inspired to put together an 80s playlist on Spotify. Sheffield is gifted at reminding us that music is meant to be loved, no matter the format or genre. There is no such thing as a “guilty pleasure.” You love what you love, and that’s okay. So you love Debbie Gibson? Dance to it, belt it out at karaoke, embrace it.