Review: 1982

Jian Ghomeshi
Penguin Group (Canada)

1982 is the story of an Iranian teenage boy growing up in the highly suburban (and highly Caucasian) community of Thornhill in the early 80s, desperately trying to be cool. In this case being cool means David Bowie, lots of black clothing, a little eyeliner, and a whole lot of hair gel. The book chronicles both Jian’s musical education and attempts to be “New Wave” as well as his desire to win the affections of a Bowie-esque girl named Wendy.

I was curious to read this book based on the popularity of Ghomeshi’s program, Q. I admit I don’t really listen to the radio or watch CBC on a regular basis, but he seems to be something of a Canadian media icon so I figured why not? I should be broadening my horizons and reading more non-fiction, so I gave 1982 a try. I did enjoy some parts of the book, such as the story of how the Ghomeshi’s home was mistaken for a brothel because of the red lamps his father so loved or the loss of young Jian’s prized Adidas bag at the hands of an angry punk. I got frustrated in places where I found the text a bit too repetitive. I get it, Wendy looks like Bowie. Bowie is cool. Thornhill is full of white people. Some of these points were belaboured a bit much for my liking, but I was still able to enjoy most of the book, including all the references to 80s technology that I still remember with something resembling fondness. Who knows, maybe I’ll check out Q one day.


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