Monday, October 20, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Slate.com and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: 'Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste'

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Her heart will go on—but will her career? One author takes on the work of Celine Dion. Salon's Daniel D"Addario filed the following report for NY1.

"Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste," Carl Wilson's 2007 book about Celine Dion, recently re-released, has made its impact felt over the intervening years.

Lorde recently tweeted that she was reading it. Every aspirant pop star, as well as every music snob who'd never listen to pop, ought to give this slender volume a read.

Wilson, like Dion a Canada native, became disgusted with the music star during her "My Heart Will Go On" period. He decided to interrogate exactly why Dion—a perfectly nice person, by all appearances, and one with millions of fans—offended him quite so severely, using her 1997 album "Let's Talk About Love," as the jumping off-point. Wilson's book is part of the 33 1/3 series of books evaluating a single album, but, uniquely, Wilson doesn't love "Let's Talk About Love." In fact, he thinks it's almost unlistenable.

The critic gets into class-based distinctions of what is "good" and "bad" taste—American fans who dismiss Dion as trashy may be discounting Dion's childhood poverty, and her identity as a citizen of Quebec, and how these things have shaped her as an artist. And, besides, isn't it snobbery to slot certain things as objectively "good" and others as "bad"? If this music means something real to someone, as it does to the many Dion fans Wilson interviews, isn't it the worst kind of bossiness to wish it didn't exist, or that everyone shared your taste?

You may walk away from Wilson's book unconvinced that Dion's music is good—he, himself, never warms to it. But you'll have a new appreciation for Dion, or Mariah Carey, or Katy Perry—take your pick. These stars of less critically-regarded, perhaps schlocky pop music don't just sustain their popularity among fans, they also give anti-fans like Wilson a reason to keep going. Dion has given her detractors a crucial part of their identities—and she's done it with a perpetual smile on her face.

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