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.
... 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.
King’s prose is murderously fizzy, like movie-theater soda pop that dances a little bit in your nostrils right after you’ve taken a sip. At her best, she’s kind of like the Eve Babitz of the Y2K-era shopping mall ... King is so fun on the page that you almost don’t realize how sharp and emotionally observant she can be, too. But such charismatic writing can also charm you into overlooking the book’s critical nearsightedness ... this tactic of inquiry becomes a bit too self-indulgent. As Tacky progresses, what was promised to be an exploration of mass culture becomes, increasingly, a highly specific and occasionally depressing travelogue through King’s sex life ... But if it falls short as a work of criticism, Tacky often excels as deeply felt, vividly conjured memoir. The book’s best and most wrenching essay is sort of about the bacchanalian MTV reality show Jersey Shore, but it’s really about King and her late father watching it together. It is a testament to the kineticism of King’s writing that by the end of the essay, you feel like you knew the guy.