Thursday, April 10, 2008

Books: Air Guitar, by Dave Hickey

When I wrote in a previous post that some essay writers are tedious, I was referring to this guy. Don't get me wrong—I read his book anyway, and it had its interesting moments—I just found him to be a little dry, and, worse, artistically hypocritical.

When writing about himself, Hickey seems obsessed with freedom; he reminisces about hanging out with jazz musicians who smoked marijuana when he was a child (his dad was one such), dropping out of grad school because his ideas were too outside of the box, and running an art gallery where he spent as much time discussing art with the paper boy as the customers. He subtitles his book: "Essays on Art and Democracy," and its easy to see that his greatest concern is that people be free to live their lives and express themselves in their own ways, without all kinds of societal bullshit getting in the way. And yet, his writing style is precisely the kind of withdrawn, uptight, judgemental shit he's criticizing. His essays are cold and academic—detached; he says "down with the ivory tower" from that tower's very parapet. And in the few essays he does step down (like the one told from the point of view of Lady Godiva, the female wrestler), he's still no Tom Wolfe, who covers all the same topics, only better.

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