Book Review | Searching for John Hughes, by Jason Diamond
As far as John Hughes fans went, I swore I was the biggest one.
I have seen most of his films (if John Candy is in it, I have not seen it…this is not intentional, but a really weird fluke that I have yet to rectify) multiple times. I have dreamed of twisting and shouting with Ferris Bueller. I have very strong opinions about Duckie and Andie’s dress (yes to Duckie, no to the dress). I have a Jake Ryan t-shirt, and I contemplated purchasing The Breakfast Club poster for my dorm room in college (only an urge to be non-conformist kept my credit card in my messenger bag).
So when I first saw the book with the hot pink cover with the silhouettes of the members of the Breakfast Club, I knew I had to buy it.
I was so excited about the book that it was the first one I read from the pile of eleven books that I just purchased.
I wish I could say it lived up to my expectations. I really do. But…it didn’t. It wasn’t because there was a lack of John Hughes trivia. There was plenty of it. The problem was…everything in-between the information about John Hughes.
Jason Diamond originally planned to write a biography of John Hughes. The problem? He had trouble finding people to talk to him about the director (as well as struggling to talk to the director himself). So, instead of tossing all the material he accrued in his search, he decided to keep it and shape his memoir around it instead.
In theory, this is a great idea. In practice? Not so much.
The parts about his childhood were genuinely interesting. He had a hard childhood, and I admire his ability to survive it with such integrity and grace. As soon as he discusses his young adulthood, the book begins to lose its momentum.
One major problem is, to quote Blink 182, “nobody likes you when you are twenty three.” It is really hard for me to care about a young man’s angst in Brooklyn. While I have been told that I have hipster tendencies, I cannot help but be annoyed when people discuss struggling for their art in a borough of New York City.
It is also really hard to care about his process about writing the book.
This is a big statement coming from me, because I adore books on the writing process. It is really hard for me to find a book about writing that I don’t like. Yet Jason Diamond found a way to make the process as exciting as waiting for a delayed train to New York City. The major problem? He isn’t actually working on the book. He spends a lot of time barely writing anything and barely missing meeting John Hughes (or the people who worked with him). It isn’t exactly nail-biting drama. I think Jason Diamond was trying to have a self-deprecating sense of humor about his failed biography, but it failed to land with me. It just came off as kind of pathetic.
The central problem with the book is that it clearly was born out of the need to not throw away years’ worth of work.
Jason Diamond wasn’t able to write the biography he wanted, so he tried to awkwardly fit into a memoir. If either book was allowed to be on its own (whether it was a biography or a memoir), I think it could have worked. However, since he was trying to unnaturally fit the two together, the book was an incoherent mess.
So if you have a choice between re-watching Pretty in Pink or reading Jason Diamond’s book, I suggest you revisit Duckie’s dance to “Try A Little Tenderness.”
Still want to read it? Pick up your copy using this link, and we’ll make pennies!