Rob Sheffield is probably a genius. That’s no reflection on him that he’s only probably one, it’s just that I’m not qualified to say who is and who isn’t. What I can say, with certainty, is the reason why I think he’s probably a genius.
I loved his latest book, “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran”, because Rob manages to conjure the exact way it felt to be a teenager in the 80s. Some might think that would only take a mention of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and a Rubik’s Cube, but that’s not it at all. Rob was a guy growing up on the east coast and I was a girl growing up in the Midwest, and yet he perfectly captures the essence of adolescent experiences during the age of day-glo and rubber bracelets.
When he talks about wishing he could have been the one male member of the Go Go’s, I totally related. Of course, there could be a male member of the Go Go’s and of course, Jane Wiedlin would fall in love with him. I used to wish that I would be called up on stage to replace a suddenly ill Belinda Carlisle so that I could be the lead singer. A boy once told me at a Suburbs show (Mpls band, for those of you who don’t know) that I looked like Belinda Carlisle. I was sure that meant he was in love with me. I’ve since wondered if that was 80s boy code for “you’re a tad pudgy”.
I annoyed everyone in the house when I read Sheffield’s description of Journey’s “Separate Ways” video—I was laughing too hard to even explain it. The chapter about being the ice cream man is wonderful and I couldn’t help but be touched by the chapter about The Replacements. There are also some tender moments—enough to make you cry, especially the parts about his grandfather.
Highly recommended—won’t make you cringe over all of the stupid things we did or the clothes we wore. Quite to the contrary, it will make you realize that you were lucky if you grew up in the 80s.
People ask what my book is about and I’m supposed to get good at explaining it quickly and succinctly, so people don’t start dreaming up ways to get away from me. My book is about Claire, a 39 year-old single mom. She’s a music writer and she lives in Chapel Hill because that’s where I live. I don’t like the idea of writing about places you haven’t been. When Claire was a teenager, she was obsessed with a British band called Banks Forest and their young buck of a guitar player, Christopher Penman. She did all of the normal stuff teenage girls do when they’re pining for a pop star—stare at posters of him on the wall, listen to his music endlessly, imagine what it would be like to be his girlfriend. More than twenty years later, Chris is a bit of a media disaster and tabloid regular with a solo career that could use some serious help. Claire gets an assignment to interview him, with direct orders to drag his closely held secrets out of him. After that, well, I can’t tell you that—read the book!
I actually started writing Bring Me Back for the first time three years ago although the idea for Chris and Claire came years before that. I didn’t get very far with writing it the first time. The title comes from the Plimsouls song “A Million Miles Away”, which I thought was appropriate given that Banks Forest was huge in the 80s.
In June of 2008, we lost our house to a fire. People talk about their lives being turned upside down—we felt like ours was turned inside out. Once things were back to the new normal, with a new house, stuff to put in it, and kids happy, I made the decision to do something for myself. I started the book a few days later. I stopped sleeping much and although it sounds so incredibly clichéd, the story spilled out of me. I’m not going to say it was easy because I don’t think my brain has worked so hard in my entire life.
I’ve only let a small circle of people in on this life event, and those people have all been burdened, I mean blessed, with the task of reading and giving feedback. Now that it’s finished and I’m looking for an agent, I thought it was time to tell the rest of the world.