USEREVIEW 082 (Capsule): Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer
Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer (Vintage Books, 2021)
ISBN 978-0-59331-272-8 | 208 pp | $21.95 CAD | BUY Here
Rax King is good at two things: she makes me care about the things I’ve unjustly overlooked, and she validates my brilliant little mind for caring about the things that I do. In Tacky, her debut collection of personal essays from Vintage Books, King pays homage to lowbrow culture. She professes her love for the music, food, and pop culture icons that have been deemed too lame, too loud, or too embarrassing. For King, to pretend we don’t like something because it’s tacky prevents us from feeling “every feeling in its highest degree.
As King memorializes the suburban mall, the reader relives their own pangs of teenaged infatuation. She heralds Jersey Shore for its shining, chaotic charm in a tribute to her deceased father. Her love letter to Hot Topic depicts the supremely awkward process of stumbling into your sense of self. King reminds us why we’re drawn to all things tacky – even if it’s too embarrassing for us to admit it.
These essays are good. Like, hamburger grease dripping down your elbows good. Sappy love songs with the windows rolled all the way down good. TV love triangles good. Cheesecake Factory good. Tacky is the best tribute to the worst culture we have to offer.
My favourite essay in this collection is ‘Love, Peace, and Taco Grease,’ which stars America’s favourite connoisseur of greasy food and frosted tips, Guy Fieri. For King, “loving Guy Fieri was a safe, simple rebellion against the memory of my husband”: “We fear the loudest, biggest man in the room unless it’s him. Many of us have forgotten how to eat properly, how to feel the simple joy of food, swallow it and keep it down. But when he gobbles his beloved fried chicken sandwiches, his oxtails, his waffles, the pleasure evident on his face, we’re hypnotized.”