Just finished reading the book 1982 in time for the reading/signing by Jian Ghomeshi tonight at McNally’s. If you don’t know who Jian is, you should. He used to be in the folk rock band Moxy Früvous and is currently the host of Q, an arts and culture program on CBC Radio.
1982 is about Jian’s life growing up as the son of Iranian immigrant parents in the mostly white neighbourhood of Thornhill, a suburb north of Toronto. As the title says, the book focuses specifically on 1982, the year Jian decided he wanted to be like David Bowie, the year he met the girl of his dreams and the year that ultimately set him off on a career as a musician, writer, producer, and radio and television host with stellar interview skills.
1982 has a fond place in my heart too. While Jian was in Grade 9 and starting high school, I was in Grade 10. It was the year I developed a crush on a boy that was so severe (unbeknownst to him) that I took to writing poetry about him and other things in my life. This ultimately resulted in the “publication” of Musings of a Mad Poet, a “book” with carefully typed pages housed in a binder with a hand-drawn cover. Multiple copies were made at the request of my friends whose lives were also chronicled in some of the poems. I even sent my manuscript to a local printing company. I still have the nice sort of rejection letter someone in the company sent back. The well meaning employee informed me that the company wasn’t exactly in the business of publishing poetry books, so perhaps I should consider self-publishing, an idea back then that was somewhat ahead of its time. I find it funny now that as the staff supervisor for my school’s yearbook my first actual involvement in a published book was through that same local printer.
1982 was also the year I took the “Choices” career test in school that suggested I should pursue a career in writing. It was the year I decided to come out of my shell a bit, allowing my English teacher to read my poetry assignments out loud in class. It was that year that I entered and won an honourable mention in the Manitoba Chapter’s Canadian Authors Association short story contest and got to attend a special reading of the top three stories (phew, dodged a bullet and didn’t have to read mine!). It was the year I had my Christmas story, The Red Scarf, read on CBC radio. It was the year I gave a speech I had written about UFOs in front of the entire school. In short it was essentially the year that anyone who previously didn’t know me that well because I was so quiet found out that I was a geek who liked to write.
It was also the year I decided I would enrol in the Creative Communications program at Red River College when I graduated. “Choices” advice aside I had already decided that I hadn’t lived long enough or seen enough tragedy to write the next great Canadian novel so while waiting I decided to pursue a career in journalism.
Like most Canadian teens my age, who were about to be introduced to video rock shows like Good Rockin’ Tonight, Video Hits and Much Music, music was a big part of my life too. 92 Citi FM had a good enough range to reach my brother and I even way out in the country and our school bus driver let us listen to more popish songs on KY58 every day on the way to and from school. So, of course, my brother and I both had dreams of becoming rock stars too.
Unlike Jian, who actually started a band eventually, my attempts at becoming a rock star (Jian was more into New Wave) were limited to using my hair brush as a microphone and, with my brother, recording myself singing Hotel California into his new Sony combination radio/cassette recorder/player. Later attempts at fitting into the music scene included using blue hair spray to “punk” up my hair on weekend outings to watch punk bands with my cousin.
That’s why I found Jian’s recollection in 1982 of using purple eyeliner (to be fair he thought it was black) to glam up his New Wave look particularly touching. I’ll bet those kids wouldn’t have laughed if they would have known where Jian would end up.
You will enjoy this book if you grew up in the 80′s or know someone who did, you like 80′s music, or, if you made it through the pain of a high school crush in the 80′s (or any decade for that matter). If you didn’t do any of these things you will still enjoy 1982. It was a good year and it’s a great book.