For all fans of John Hughes and his hit films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and Home Alone, comes Jason Diamond’s hilarious memoir of growing up obsessed with the iconic filmmaker’s movies—a preoccupation that eventually convinces Diamond he should write Hughes’ biography and travel to New York City on a quest that is as funny as it is hopeless.
For as long as Jason Diamond can remember, he’s been infatuated with John Hughes’ movies. From the outrageous, raunchy antics in National Lampoon’s Vacation to the teenage angst in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to the insanely clever and unforgettable Home Alone, Jason could not get enough of Hughes’ films. And so the seed was planted in his mind that it should fall to him to write a biography of his favorite filmmaker. It didn’t matter to Jason that he had no qualifications, training, background, platform, or direction. Thus went the years-long, delusional, earnest, and assiduous quest to reach his goal. But no book came out of these years, and no book will. What he did get was a story that fills the pages of this unconventional, hilarious memoir.
In Searching for John Hughes, Jason tells how a Jewish kid from a broken home in a Chicago suburb—sometimes homeless, always restless—found comfort and connection in the likewise broken lives in the suburban Chicago of John Hughes’ oeuvre. He moved to New York to become a writer. He started to write a book he had no business writing. In the meantime, he brewed coffee and guarded cupcake cafes. All the while, he watched John Hughes movies religiously.
Though his original biography of Hughes has long since been abandoned, Jason has discovered he is a writer through and through. And the adversity of going for broke has now been transformed into wisdom. Or, at least, a really, really good story.
In other words, this is a memoir of growing up. One part big dream, one part big failure, one part John Hughes movies, one part Chicago, and one part New York. It’s a story of what comes after the “Go for it!” part of the command to young creatives to pursue their dreams—no matter how absurd they might seem at first.
In his memoir, Rolling Stone editor Diamond relates the story of his failed attempt to write a biography of director John Hughes while working in Manhattan coffee shops and being almost too pretentious to stomach. Diamond grew up in the Chicago suburbs that inspired much of Hughes's early work and escaped a broken home (abusive father, runaway mother) to scrape by in New York City, where he eventually began compiling his biography of Hughes. In between depressive episodes and alcohol-fueled bad decisions, Diamond plugs away at the book; when no sources are forthcoming, he resorts to lying to publicists, stalking, and outright inventing tales of Hughes's day-to-day life (which, alongside factual discrepancies, make it difficult to discern any truth from Diamond's accounts) to move the manuscript forward. All this, combined with Diamond's disdain for (and discomfort with) everyone around him, makes it extremely difficult to empathize with him as a 20-something. Diamond's book may appeal to Hughes die-hards, but readers simply looking for a fresh memoir should look elsewhere.