A few of our favourite authors start the summer off right with a touch of nostalgia by Meaghan Laaper
As summer finally draws in, patio chairs come out, winter coats get packed away, and those slumbering summer freckles spread out across sun-warmed cheeks, old memories of summers past bubble to the surface. Barefoot on the back porch, with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” playing over the radio, or maybe Cindi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was more up your alley. Either way, it’s time to fill your summer days and get that ’80s and ’90s nostalgia flowing! These Goose Lane authors did just that, digging up some relatable favourites from their past.
We all have some long-term relationships with songs that we should probably break up with, but not all are bad! A few of our authors were willing to let us in on some of their ’80s and ’90s music loves that they still can’t bear to part with.
Amy Spurway, author of Crow, told us to brace ourselves before getting into her music must-haves. “If I am left unsupervised with a music source, things are going to get real Grunge-y, real quick,” says Amy. “Nirvana. Pearl Jam. Hole. Stone Temple Pilots. Seven Mary Three. Temple of the Dog.” Then she settles into some ’90s poetics, such as Tori Amos. The Tragically Hip. Counting Crows. Sinéad O’Conner. The Cranberries. Tracy Chapman. Our Lady Peace. “After that, all bets are off,” she says “and all my ’80s and ’90s musical loves will merge into an eclectic mess, as I careen wildly from Meat Loaf to Green Day. Red Hot Chili Peppers to The Buggles. Rage Against the Machine to Gowan. Needless to say, I made a mean mix tape back in the day.”
Catherine McKercher, author of Shut Away, gave us the parental perspective. “My children were born in the 1980s,” Catherine explains, “so my soundtrack for those years was Raffi, Fred Penner, Sesame Street, and Sharon, Lois, and Bram. Now that I have grandchildren, all are making a comeback on my playlist. My 1990s soundtrack was filled with the kings and queen of teen angst, Nirvana and Alanis Morissette. I never listen to Nirvana any more, but Alanis still makes an occasional appearance. As does Joni Mitchell. From any decade — she's eternal.”
Andrew Theobald, author of “Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers”, got into the way this decade’s music affected him. “Listening to ’90s music transports me back,” he says, “but it also simply sounds great. While attending junior high and high school in New Brunswick in the 1990s, I forged a special connection with the music of the period, the kind that can only really be created when you’re a teenager. It helped immensely that the best music at the time was from the Maritimes: Eric’s Trip, Sloan, The Inbreds, Jale; In Need of Medical Attention is still my favourite Joel Plaskett record. The ’90s was the pinnacle of the music video, too, and it was so much fun to watch them.”
Now who hasn’t wished for a time machine at one point or another? All possible butterfly effects aside, we asked our authors what they would do differently if they could go back in time and relive the booming ’80s and ’90s.
Catherine McKercher, author of the forthcoming memoir Shut Away gave us an answer too many of us can relate to, stating, “My hair. So many bad ’80s styles . . .”
If given a time machine, Matthew Wash, author of These are not the potatoes of my youth, would go back in time, preferably with a mitt full of cash. “I would have bribed people to drive me into the city to go see more live shows and more concerts,” he says, “but I lived in the boonies! I probably should have gotten my license and taken myself, but I was too busy I guess working at Foodland and rewriting the endings to Christopher Pike books.”
Amy Spurway also regrets missing out on parts of the music scene. “I would double-check my university exam schedule in 1996,” she explains, “so I wouldn’t miss going on a Tragically Hip concert road trip with my friends due to mistakenly thinking I had a philosophy exam the next morning.”
Nostalgia is a given when you consider film and TV but what about books, like The Satanic Verses, It, or The Handmaid’s Tale? Do you ever get nostalgic for books from these decades? Stuff you may have read for high school — or found on your parents’ bookshelves?
Scott Fotheringham, author of The Rest is Silence, got back to us with a resounding “Nope,” stating “My reading during the ’80s was largely of the classics since I came to them after university.” That being said, Scott couldn’t help pointing out a love for Lorrie Moore’s Anagrams, Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, and Barbara Kingsolver.
Amy Spurway, however, certainly felt the memories tucked between the pages of her ’80s and ’90s novels. She explains, “My dad and I were huge fans of Dave Barry. I definitely get nostalgic for Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits (1997), Dave Barry Turns 40 (1991), and Dave Barry Talks Back (1992). Luckily, those books are still kicking around my parents’ house and I love re-reading them for a laugh when I’m home. Another book I loved dearly was Judy Blume’s Letters to Judy: What Kids Wish They Could Tell You (1986). It gave me this radical glimpse into the lives and struggles of so many other people — kids and adults alike — and to this day, I wonder about some of those letter-writers, and how things turned out for them. That book had a very deep impact on me at a key, formative time in my life.”
Matthew Walsh also feels the novel nostalgia. “I really liked Stephen King even as a kid” he says, “and I remember starting to read It at eleven years old. One night, the power went out at my grandmother's house so I read it by candlelight at the dinner table eating cold lasagna. I also really liked Misery, which I read around the same time. I was also heavily into Fear Street and Christopher Pike. The first Fear Street book I read was The Halloween Party; I remember I really liked the font on the cover of the book.”
We all have guilty pleasures, and our authors are no different!
When asked about his ’80s and ’90s guilty pleasures, Scott Fotheringham referred us to his German army cargo pants. “I found them at an Army/Navy surplus on Yonge Street,” he says, “and wore them all over Europe in the spring of 1982.”
Matthew Wash also had an interesting sense of style. “I did have this blue sweater from when McDonalds made their McKids clothing,” he says, “and it has a big golden M on it, and I wore it every day with rubber boots, and I chewed the sleeve of it.” He also brings up his love for The Secret of Nimh. “It made me feel like I could overcome anything, and The Land Before Time was an extremely important film to me. Who Framed Roger Rabbit too,” he says. Matthew also informed us that, even though he doesn’t see it as a guilty pleasure, he loves “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson. “It is just so damn good,” he explains. “I grew up totally in love with Parker Posey — I literally have seen almost everything she has been in, even Josie and the Pussycats, which she should have won an Oscar for. I also loved Empire Records, another Oscar-worthy picture about kids trying to save a record store, and it has Liv Tyler in it.”
Finally, Catherine McKercher ties it up stating simply, “I don't believe in guilty pleasures. Just pleasures.”
Meaghan Laaper is Goose Lane Edition's summer editorial and publicity intern.
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