Tag Archives: Writing

Review & Tour: Searching for John Hughes

Searching for John Hughes

Searching for John Hughes
By Jason Diamond
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062424839, November 29, 2016, 304 pp.

The Short of It:

Anyone growing up in the 80s is going to find this book to be a real treat but even if you didn’t grow up during the best decade ever, you’ll still find something to like.

The Rest of It:

When I was asked to do this tour and began to casually chat about the book, I was surprised by how many people I ran into who had absolutely no idea who John Hughes was. Really? My first reaction? What is wrong with you?

In 1984, the movie Sixteen Candles came out. I was a sophomore in high school. In my junior year, The Breakfast Club came out.  In my senior year, my most tumultuous year by far, Pretty in Pink debuted. ALL of these movies shaped me as a human being. So much so, that I introduced them to my kids as soon as they were old enough to understand all that teen angst. John Hughes wrote many movies and he directed some of them too but what he did best was really nail the teen experience.

Enter Jason Diamond. His infatuation with Hughes goes beyond my love of the man, in that he followed his work well into the 90s and filled notebook upon notebook with bits of knowledge about him. Searching for John Hughes IS about Diamond’s quest to write a book about Hughes but it’s about so much more.

Diamond’s childhood was troubled. Although he lived very close to some of the iconic Chicago movie locations seen in some of the films I mentioned, he dealt with physical abuse at his father’s hand, a mother who struggled to be the kind of mother she really wanted to be, and Diamond’s continued struggle to find himself.

As a teen, pretty much abandoned by his mother, he’s forced to move from couch to couch, living off the kindness of friends. School, often a challenge, provided some brief moments of clarity. Especially when one of his favorite teachers turns him on to good literature and gives him a place to stay.

This memoir has highs and lows, both good and bad. Diamond struggled with drugs and alcohol but his survival instinct always seemed to kick in when he needed it to. Moving from job to job, he began to think about writing as a career and that is when he decided to write a biography on the man himself, Hughes. A biography that never happened.

What struck me about this memoir is that Diamond is a really interesting guy on his own. His challenging childhood, his ability to always pull himself up by his bootstraps, was impressive and there was a lot that I could relate to. As much as I love Hughes, and as much as I enjoyed reading about Hughes, I almost wanted to read more about Diamond.

As some of you know, my mother passed away on November 15th. This was the first book I read after her passing and it gave me all the feels. It’s like I jumped into a time machine and went back to my senior year. Hughes knew so much about being young and wanting more. Like Andie in Pretty in Pink,  I came from the wrong side of the tracks and struggled through my high school years. I had a Duckie and a Blane and even a Steff. How could Hughes have known this? That was his appeal. Everyone viewing these movies can find someone to relate to. Rich, poor, popular or not. If you haven’t seen his movies, I implore you to do so.

Then? Read this book. It’s filled with lots of movie facts but Diamond also takes us to some of the iconic filming locations in and around the Chicago suburbs. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jason Diamond
Author: Jason Diamond
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, and Twitter

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains purchase and author links.

Review, Tour & Giveaway: Because You Have To

Because You Have To
Because You Have To: A Writing Life

By Joan Frank
(University of Notre Dame Press, Paperback, 9780268028930, September 2012, 200pp.)

The Short of It:

Writers, true writers will appreciate the grit contained within these pages.

The Rest of It:

Sometimes you look for a book, and sometimes a book finds you. This is definitely one of those times where the book found me and the timing could not have been more perfect.

Is this a book about writing? Yes. Without a doubt, this is a book about writing but it’s not a “how to” and it doesn’t include useful tips on how to get your book published either. What it is, is a collection of essays about the act of writing. Specifically, the writing itself and what it means to be a writer.

Many writers struggle financially and although this is something that we immediately realize as fact, it’s not something that comes to mind when you think of becoming an accomplished writer. Yes, being able to pay the rent does affect your writing. The type of job you have affects your ability to write as well. Working a 9-5 job and then coming home to a family that needs you, also affects your ability to create. It’s obvious, but hearing Frank tell it like it is, is somehow refreshing and comforting. Hearing her admit it somehow makes it okay and yes, writers everywhere will feel validated and empowered that there are others out there working through the same challenges.

Frank also goes into the mechanics of writing and the need for stillness. Creating art in an age where technology is buzzing all around us is a distraction in and of itself. Her essay titled The Stillness of Birds speaks to this and while I was reading it, I was distracted no less than ten times by my daughter who happened to be watching The Brady Bunch while writhing around on the floor. Yes, I could relate.

Frank also admits, that writing can be a lonely life. It’s not something that you share with everyone. Some will want to critique you, others will want to commiserate with you but most of all, her fear of being a whiner is what keeps her from discussing the early stages of her work. The act of writing brings with it, a healthy dose of misery. Who knew?

Reading this book was like taking a much-needed time-out. I’ve longed for a career in writing and feel that I have stories to tell, but the act of actually writing them down has been a dark cloud hanging over my head for as long as I can remember. Marriage, family, work. These are the things that continue to throw me off-balance and they are the very same things that Frank talks about in this book. Granted, she does not offer advice really, but what she does is tell you that you write, because you have to, not because it’s something you dreamed of doing. You write because physically, you’d be sick if you didn’t. Writers write, whether they get paid for it or not. That is the distinction and it’s been a bit of an eye opener for me.

I love that the collection is both honest, yet positive and hopeful. Clearly, Frank’s love of writing outweighs the misery that tends to go along with it. This is a book to pull out every time you are experiencing frustration of your own.

If this sounds like a book for you, enter my giveaway for a chance to win your own copy! Details below.

Joan Frank

Joan’s website.

Joan’s TLC tour stops.

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Source: Review and giveaway copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.


This giveaway is for one copy of Because You Have To and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on November 21, 2012 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.

To enter the giveaway, please click here. (This giveaway is now closed!)