Air Guitar: Art Book Club, Part One



Until around age 12, my parents would always let me have whatever book I wanted. I can almost pinpoint the moment when this stopped — I naively quoted a line from Silence of the Lambs that, looking back, must have been excruciatingly icky for my father to hear. Just imagine the grossest possible line from that book to quote to your father, and you’ll know why it’s still a vivid memory for me. But for the most part, I continued to get completely spoiled in the book-buying department, with only a few vetoes that I can remember — those porny Anne Rice books, The Exorcist … I had super-creepy taste for a kid, apparently. This has led me to have way too many books, and an insatiable urge to keep piling them on top of each other, no matter how small my apartment. These days I’m wading through stacks of everything from porn studies to Mary Todd Lincoln biographies, with no foreseeable end in sight.

What I need is an editor. Someone to help me hone my taste for the obscure and the fascinating. So I asked some of my favorite Nashville artsy types for their all-time favorite titles, and I came up with a list of art books that I haven't read yet, but really want to.

First on my list is Dave Hickey’s Air Guitar, which was recommended by Emily Clayton. I've only just cracked the first chapter, but in the next few weeks I’ll start plowing through in earnest. If you're anything like me, and I bet you are, you'll want to follow along. More about Air Guitar after the jump.

From Google Books:

The 23 essays (or "love songs") that make up the now classic volume Air Guitar trawl a "vast, invisible underground empire" of pleasure, through record stores, honky-tonks, art galleries, jazz clubs, cocktail lounges, surf shops and hot-rod stores, as restlessly on the move as the America they depict. Air Guitar pioneered a kind of plain-talking in cultural criticism, willingly subjective and always candid and direct. A valuable reading tool for art lovers, neophytes, students and teachers alike, Hickey's book—now in its third edition—has galvanized a generation of art lovers, with new takes on Norman Rockwell, Robert Mapplethorpe, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol and Perry Mason. In June 2009, Newsweek voted Air Guitar one of the top 50 books that "open a window on the times we live in, whether they deal directly with the issues of today or simply help us see ourselves in new and surprising ways," and described the book as "a seamless blend of criticism, personal history, and a deep appreciation for the sheer nuttiness of American life."

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