Thursday, October 18, 2012

1982 by Jian Ghomeshi

This is the self-described, creative non-fiction memoir of a year in the life of Q broadcaster and musician, Jian Ghomeshi.  Apparently due to the "creative" portion of the memoir some of the characters are composites and many of the conversations are to the best of the author's recollection of those that happened 30 years ago.

That being said, he tells a reasonably interesting story though I found the style a bit annoying.  He writes like he speaks - and while he speaks very well, it comes out a little too "folksy" for my taste when he puts it on paper.  In addition there's some repetition - probably deliberate since his 14 year old self was a bit obsessive, but it got a little boring.  He also indulges in his fascination with lists and breaks the text every few pages to make a list illustrating some point he's making.  I'd have got the point without the lists.  Finally, because he's a musician, and was obsessed with musicians in addition to girls at age 14 he goes into endless detail about singers and bands.  Not being as big a music fan as he is I skimmed over those parts (which meant the book moved fast between skimming the lists and the musical interludes).

Despite these reservations he effectively illustrates the confusion of adolescence, particularly for a non-white immigrant living in a predominantly white Toronto suburb in the early 80s.  His relationship with his dream girl Wendy ranges from humorous to sweet to sad.  His boyhood friendships are genuine and his mixed feelings of admiration for and embarrassment about his parents are relatable.

I'm going to hear him speak about the book in a few days and I have a feeling I'll enjoy that even more - his story is interesting but he's much more adept at the spoken word.

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