From James Beard Award-nominated writer of the Catapult column "Store-Bought Is Fine," an irreverent and charming debut essay collection about the joys of low culture and bad taste, exploring coming of age in the 2000s in the age of Hot Topic, Creed, and frosted lip gloss. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL
Tacky is about the power of pop culture--like any art--to imprint itself on our lives and shape our experiences, no matter one's commitment to "good" taste. These fourteen essays are a nostalgia-soaked antidote to the millennial generation's obsession with irony, putting the aesthetics we hate to love--snakeskin pants, Sex and the City, Cheesecake Factory's gargantuan menu--into kinder and sharper perspective. Each essay revolves around a different maligned (and yet, Rax would argue, vital) cultural artifact, providing thoughtful, even romantic meditations on desire, love, and the power of nostalgia. An essay about the gym-tan-laundry exuberance of Jersey Shore morphs into an excavation of grief over the death of her father; in "You Wanna Be On Top," Rax writes about friendship and early aughts girlhood; in another, Guy Fieri helps her heal from an abusive relationship. The result is a collection that captures the personal and generational experience of finding joy in caring just a little too much with clarity, heartfelt honesty, and Rax King's trademark humor.
About the Author
RAX KING is a James Beard award-nominated writer and host of the podcast Low Culture Boil. Her writing can be found in Glamour, MEL Magazine, Catapult, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her hedgehog and toothless Pekingese.
“I am thankful for Tacky for how it broadens my own considerations of popular culture, of shame, and of celebration. The meditations in the book are equal parts comical, heartbreaking, and revelatory. A monument to uplifting the parts of popular culture that might otherwise be shrugged off and/or dismissed by those who don't have the imagination to celebrate what they might consider mundane. This book made me feel more at home with my obsessions, both small and large.” —Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America
"Tacky proves something to me that I’ve thought for a while: liking stuff that is bad actually means I’m smart. And it not only means I’m smart but it also means I’m a complicated individual with a vast interior life who is capable of deep, lasting love. Rax King turns cultural artifacts like Degrassi, ANTM, or Jersey Shore into timeless poetry served on a hilarious, horny dish that you’ll ugly-cry while eating because you'll be thinking of the people in your life who have left, whether for a new person or the next world. Each essay burns brighter than Guy Fieri’s hair. This bitch has me crying to Creed." —Melissa Lozada-Oliva, author of Dreaming of You
“Goddamn, Rax really tore this shit up. THIS BOOK IS GOOD AS HELL.” —Sam Irby, author of Wow, No Thank You.
“Tacky is a very funny book. Not just funny, I mean, SERIOUSLY FUNNY. King has the power to trick you into thinking you've got the joke all figured out, then suddenly reveals that you're going to experience a wealth of tender, thought-provoking emotions and guess what? You're gonna like it! On the sentence level, King's a wizard; she's able to wring the last drops of cool and sweet and sexy out of every moment. This isn't a book you read. It wants to be devoured. Rax King is a supremely gifted writer and Tacky is a masterful ode to unfettered, unrestrained, and unrepentant joy.” —Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things
“Tacky approaches all our gaudiest, clumsiest, most embarrassing cultural artifacts—and, at the same time, all our gaudiest, clumsiest, most embarrassing human emotions—with the insight they're rarely given, and the compassion they deserve. A piercing, sparkling rhinestone of a book.” —Jess Zimmerman, author of Women and Other Monsters
“After reading Rax King's boisterous, big-hearted Tacky, I'll never look at Guy Fieri the same way again—but beyond that, King shifted the way I think about so many pop cultural phenomena of the past two decades. Her book is like a delicious funnel cake—dusted with frosty wit, soft and chewy in the middle, and I could not stop devouring it.” —Rachel Syme
“Tacky is overflowing with Cheesecake Factory portions of humor, insight and tenderness. And you’ll read the whole thing faster than the Cheesecake Factory menu.” —Josh Gondelman, author of Nice Try