Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer is a sweet, sex-positive collection of essays by Rax King. The author frames each essay as “about” a particular pop cultural artifact — Hot Topic, America’s Next Top Model, the Cheesecake Factory — and uses that as a jumping-off point for personal memoir.
First, the good: she’s a very skilled writer, and even the chapters that are about cultural moments that I didn’t personally experience (e.g. Degrassi) are well-handled enough that I was able to get the gist. The key to getting something out of a piece is getting her personal story resonance, not intimate familiarity with all the detailed history of Manny, Ashley, and … Craig, I think?
She’s also sex-positive and just seems generally positive … like she has absolutely had terrible experiences in her life, but she seems to default to happy and feel good about herself, which is nice to see in a lady who’s being pretty open about topics that ladies are often punished for, professionally and otherwise.
The bad: this may be a weird critique for a memoir but it’s pretty uninquisitive. The only element of broader context that’s allowed in to her personal experience is the pop-culture-item-of-the-day. Funnily enough it was a chapter on Sex in the City that really highlighted this. She identifies most with Samantha, and she describes much of her early sexual history as box checking — this position! That position! Threesome! Rope harness! Buttplug! Meanwhile she’s watching the show with a female friend she absolutely wants to hook up with but they don’t, for years, because … that’s the one box she’s afraid to touch (heyo!). Why??
Anyway … if you enjoyed Sex in the City the first time around, you’re probably the target audience for this and you might enjoy it. But the most distinctive thing about this is the pop culture angle, and on that front, I wish there had been substantially more ANTM, and specifically, more Tyra.