When you’re young, medicated and bored as shit in the suburbs, it’s difficult to resist any art that can help decipher the social and psychological chaos of your teens. Depending on your definition of art, you might consider a kid enlightened were he to derive the majority of these guiding affectations from Proust or Warhol. Enlightened or not, Jason Diamond found his signal in the noise via John Hughes’ films, as Diamond’s childhood in the Chicago suburbs pivoted from the bucolic to the Boschian.
Anyone raised in the same ‘burbs will recognize Diamond’s brand of dissipation. Summer nights spent driving along highways looking for patches of forest far enough removed from the ever-present sprawl to safely smoke pot or drink terrible beer. Rich parents, absent often enough to have inadvertently facilitated most lost virginities in their child’s class. Rich kids fully prepared to assume the mantle of privilege while slightly less rich kids trip over themselves to spurn it. The occasional flawed and complicated love interest exists only insomuch as they shake any resolve to view life in binary terms.
This is also the brand of John Hughes, the auteur behind “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Maid in Manhattan.” In “Searching for John Hughes,” Diamond shares his struggle, distinguishing Hughes’ fictional vision of this landscape from his own real one. The backdrops were similar. Hughes filmed in, and drew much of his inspiration from, Chicago’s North Shore, where Diamond grew up.
“Searching” reads like Horatio Alger meets Nick Hornby. Diamond’s passion for Hughes’ films leads to interesting moments of pop culture analysis poached from his abandoned biography of the man himself. His struggle to make it as a writer in New York chronicling his bootstrapping will make you appreciate the rent situation in Chicago.
At the heart of this memoir is Diamond’s slow-building disillusionment with Hughes, whose career choices seem to betray a man more interested in making money than making art. Ultimately, the scales fall from Diamond’s eyes as he finds meaning in sharing his own voice rather than trying to understand that of another. (Pierce Smith)
Jason Diamond’s book launch is on December 5, 7pm at The Whistler, 2421 North Milwaukee, (773)227-3530.
“Searching for John Hughes”
By Jason Diamond
William Morrow, 304 pages, $15.99