Each essay revolves around a different maligned (and yet, Rax would argue, vital) cultural artifact, from MTV's Jersey Shore reality TV show to Guy Fieri, exploring what makes it "tacky" and King's own relationship to it.
... here comes Rax King, in her ebullient book Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer, to make the late aughts seem like the most vivid, concrete and ecstatic moment to burst into adolescence since time out of mind ... King’s book is a well-calibrated celebration of 'bad' taste ... That King writes about these things while alluding to Sontag and Updike and Penelope and Odysseus without once seeming like she is otherwise slumming is part of her achievement ... She wears her literacy as if it were a nose stud ... Nor is it new to tuck memoir, wonton-style, inside cultural criticism, which King does. What does feel new — what’s always new, when you find it — is the glitter and squalor and joy and exactness in King’s writing. She’s opposed to distance and irony; you end up taking her seriously because she’s so opposed to the project of being taken seriously ... King writes about herself in the manner Martha Graham taught her dancers to move across the stage: She leads with her crotch. She possesses, in her telling, an incandescent libido, so mighty it could illumine a city’s electrical grid ... reads like sequential shots of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky ... Ode to Warm Vanilla Sugar is in league, as coming-of-age essays go, with Nora Ephron’s A Few Words About Breasts ... So winsome is the writing in Tacky that, most of the time, there’s no other word for it but classy.
... funny and moving ... [King] defiantly doubles down on her affection for junk, spinning lovely tales of emotional truth ... She’s also open about infidelity and her history of bedding married men, writing with an invigorating honesty that doesn’t seek to make excuses or apologies nor is she seeking pity or sympathy from her readers ... The emotional breadth of Tacky is stunning, but it must be said that even though there are some aching moments in the book, King also has an expert hand at writing comedy. Tacky is a fun read and King’s writing persona is like that of an impossibly witty and funny friend that you love hanging out with. She can find the absurd in many of her situations and writes them in such a smart, literary, and humorous way, that often readers will find themselves laughing out loud
These pieces are smart and crass and unapologetic and wildly entertaining ... brings together cultural criticism and the personal essay and combines them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. By digging into the specificity of her own connections to these seemingly innocuous and/or inane things, King takes the reader on a journey that is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking ... There are those who might argue that the poignancy and impact of King’s personal explorations are somehow dulled by the pop cultural framework she utilizes, but those people – snobs that they almost certainly are – will have entirely missed the point. It is because of that framework that we can gain a truer understanding of the stories King seeks to tell ... Obviously, your mileage may vary regarding the effectiveness of these essays. There will almost certainly be references that don’t resonate with you over the course of these 14 pieces; I know there were a couple that simply went over my head. But that’s the point – we like what we like and who gives a damn what anyone else thinks? ... a thoughtful and charmingly snarky read; King is a gifted storyteller who is unafraid to aim those gifts squarely at herself – a rare combination. So pull on your snakeskin pants, order up a Crispy Chicken Costoletta and crank up the Creed – Rax King will take it from there.