Monday, December 3, 2012

BOOK: 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

 1982 by Jian Ghomeshi, 278 pages

Ghomeshi, the CBC host of Q, was born just 9 days before me so I knew that 1982 would hit all my cultural markers. In 1982, Jian and I were 14 years old, finishing up grade nine, and starting grade ten. It was the beginning of the 1980s for that music we all still love. Jian was much more into New Wave music and David Bowie than I was, but I still recognized nearly all his references, musical or otherwise. And although we both grew up in the suburbs, living in suburban Toronto was a completely different experience than a suburb on Prince Edward Island. He could take a subway and see The Police in concert. I had no opportunities to see anything even remotely similar in 1982. I think Toronto (the band) played at the Exhibition that year, which doesn't really count as a rock concert.

It's about that tricky age, trying to define yourself. Ghomeshi had the added difficulty of being an Iranian immigrant to Canada by way of London. He keeps it light, and includes many lists. Let me describe the type of lists he wrote:
1. Musical influences
2. being 14
3. girls he had crushes on
4. coming of age
So as you can see, it is a coming of age story about a musically interested teenager.

I'm not sure who the book is aimed at. In one sense, it is going to be forty-somethings who will identify with him, and remember living that life. But Ghomeshi explains in detail how things were different as if he is writing to a fourteen year old living today. We had no cell phones, no wikipedia to look anything up, no playlists - you had to make a mixed tape, and how much more difficult it was to buy music. It was funny to read about that, but I'm not sure how many teenagers will be reading the book. 

His writing style is casual, and humorous, with forays into his philosophies and musical development. Ghomeshi is very likable, and it is like you are listening to him on the radio as he tells some stories about his youth. Enjoyable way to spend some time, especially if you already know and like Ghomeshi, or were a teenager in the 1980s.