Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson
This little book is more than a book about Céline Dion. It is a discourse and meditation on art, aesthetics, taste, and culture generally. It covers much ground in such a small package, and I really would read it again. I recommend it for those of us who question why we like the things we do and why others do the same or not. It’s a book about being open and about being human in culture. It’s about perception, sociology and individuality.
This was another book from Nick Hornby’s column, and I love that we love the same things. Anyway, the premise is that Wilson, a Canadian music critic, wanted to explore the fame of and backlash against Céline Dion. Doing so, he explored how we feel about our art, cultural assumptions and personal taste.
Personally, I am mostly indifferent Céline. I do not really like her English music, and I had one of the worse experiences with restaurant service at her Nickels chain, but I have nothing else against her really. Her existence does not perturb me as a human being so much as war criminals or intolerant people do. I have never really liked how much people have hated her. It seems over the top. As Wilson described, a lot people could not stand her and she became this a symbol of trite and overproduced music. People disliked her without really knowing her and articulating why they disliked her.
As a Canadian like Wilson, I have grown up with Céline in the media, but not being Québécois, I have not been as exposed to her as they are. I do admit my Dad loves the Titanic soundtrack and to my knowledge does play the album at least once a year just for “My Heart Will Go On” which is not fun. I have seen her on Quebec TV singing to Montreal concert goers in French. Her voice and songs are completely different in French. She is much more soulful and that is the
I do think the author understands why Céline is successful. He also how her success is largely attributed to the smart business sense of catering to various cultures: singing their languages, being open, and generally being Canadian abroad. She and Shania Twain seem to share this view of wanting their music to be enjoyed by others, but not putting too much of themselves in it. Still, Céline’s work is full of raw sentimentality and it makes us wonder how that viewed down upon by society . Wilson also conducts interviews with some of her fans which were somewhat interesting, but the core of the novel is the wider discussion of taste.
While writing about Céline’s career, Wilson also discussed musical genres, history, philosophy and more. This part feels a little more dense and serious, but I think he brings up many different perspectives about taste and aesthetics. It was provocative, and I enjoyed this book’s scope.
Read March 2nd-4th 2013.