Join us TONIGHT, Friday, March 21st at 7pm for the Montreal launch of the new and expanded edition of Carl Wilson's legendary book about taste, class and Céline Dion, Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste (originally from the 33 1/3 series). The evening will feature the author in conversation with Sean Michaels (of the Said the Gramophone blog and new novel Us Conductors), followed by a signing.
In 2007, Continuum published the fifty-second volume in the 33 1/3 series of books about albums. Its title, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, seemed to suggest that it would be a book about Céline Dion. But it turned out to be so much more than that. I can say that, personally, as a guy who was working at a record store and writing music criticism when it came out, it was a book that actually, kind of, in at least a small way, changed my life. And judging by the roster of prominent writers, musicians and scholars that have contributed essays on related themes to this new, expanded edition, I'm not alone.
In the book, Wilson does indeed discuss Celine Dion -- he looks into her French-Canadian roots, meets her adoring fans, sees her Vegas show, and reviews the album (yes, the one with the Titanic song) -- but the book is so good because Wilson uses Dion as an opportunity to examine the very concept of taste, in a way that's highly erudite (he breaks down a history of aesthetic theory from Kant to Pierre Bourdieu) as well as deeply personal. By the end, Wilson crafts a kind of manifesto for what came to be known as the "poptimist" school of thought in criticism -- a kind of writing about culture that “might put less stock in defending its choices and more in depicting its enjoyment, with all its messiness and private soul tremors– to show what it is like for me to like it, and invite you to compare.” In other words, let's talk about love.
Carl Wilson is a writer and editor at The Globe and Mail and his work also has appeared in Pitchfork, Slate, The New York Times, Blender and many other publications. His pieces were selected for two of Da Capo Books' annual Best Music Writing collections, in 2002 and 2007, by guest editors Jonathan Lethem and Robert Christgau.