Rax King has elbowed into the world of book publication with a collection of essays that poke fun at the ‘worst our culture has to offer’ while holding a mirror up to some striking and painful truths about relationships, sexuality, commitment, death, and the difficulty of communicating love in an increasingly complicated world. But this mirror does best when it is masking the complicated nature of what makes life so complicated through the junk lenses of Sex and the City, Guy Fieri, Creed, Hot Topic and the American Shopping Mall, Jersey Shore, The Sims, and many more shout outs to pop culture kitsch. King’s voice swings from tragic, to sultry, to cute, optimistic, and everything in between as we stand beside her for some of the most important and dark moments of her life. The weight of her experience becomes disarmed in this way, and we feel like we are listening to that friend in high school that has no bones about letting it all spill out while she chain smokes and sips from the endless nips at the bottom of her handbag (if you’d call that old basmati rice thing a handbag).
My favorite essays of the collection were easily “It’s Time To Let Meatloaf Into Your Embarassing Little Heart” and her James Beard Award winning “Love, Peace, and Taco Grease.” King has her hand on the pulse of those of us who can’t seem to stare a tragedy in our life down without a good thrift store TV-VCR night and too-soon gallows humor that give those around us some pause about whether to laugh or not. Her essays have a heft to the prose that holds them up by offering her strength in sharing the heavy themes s we walk through the aisles of a dead Blockbuster video. Bad things happen, and there’s some real garbage out there that we love to listen to and read and watch when we make it through the other side. That old saw goes, ‘life is what happens when you’re making other plans.’ I think Rax King’s Tacky is a great collection about how life is going to happen to you the way it’s going to happen no matter how hard you try and how bad you want to make it work differently…but while it’s happening, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think about that yellow mayo sauce escaping from the corners of Fieri’s maw as he bathes in the sweaty meat heaven of flavortown.
An excellent collection from the kitsch punk writer nonpareil. Look for it when it hits bookshelves on November 2, 2021 from Vintage.
Image: MarvinOGravel, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons