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Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste (33 1/3) Paperback – December 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082642788X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826427885
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Brilliant." -- Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise

 

"It's fascinating stuff...By turns hilarious and heartwarming." -- Guardian Unlimited Arts blog, March 2008

 

"A wide-ranging book, one predicated on the possibility that what repels us may say more about us than what attracts us...[an] insightful, engaging, and unexpectedly moving book." -- The Globe and Mail, January 19, 2008

 

"An important study- not just of Dion and pop music but also of the changing nature of criticism in the popular realm." -- Bookforum, January 2008

 

"This could be the best book of the series...razor-sharp and unerringly intelligent." -- John Wenzel, The Denver Post

 

“The always critical and erudite Mr. Wilson actually approached Let's Talk About Love as a non-fan grappling with questions of "good" and "bad" taste... -- Idolator.com

 

“a rigorous, perceptive and very funny meditation on what happens when you realize that there's more to life than being hip, and begin to grapple with just what that "more" might be.” -- Montreal Gazette

 

“A book pondering the aesthetics of Celine risks going wrong in about 3,000 different ways...Instead, this book goes very deeply right.” --Sam Anderson, New York Magazine



*

From the Back Cover

Punk, metal, even social-justice rock such as U2 or Rage Against the Machine, with their emphatic slogans of individuality and independence, are as much "inspirational" or "motivational" music as Céline's is, but for different subcultural groups. They are just as one-sided and unsubtle. Morally you could fairly ask what is more laudable about excess in the name of rage and resentment than immoderation in thrall to love and connection. The likely answer would be that Céline is conformist, quiescent, unsubversive. "Subversion" today is sentimentality's reverse: It is nearly always a term of approval. To show the subversiveness of a song, TV show or movie is tantamount to validating it, not just in pop criticism but in academic scholarship.

Tens of millions of people around the world love Céline Dion. Many millions more can't stand her. Why? Carl Wilson, by no means a Céline fan at the start of his quest, searches for the answer in this extraordinary book. Immersing himself in Dion's 1999 hit album Let's Talk About Love (the one with that Titanic song on it), he examines everything from Céline's Quebec roots to her enormous voice to her tear-jerking sentimentality. As Wilson strives to understand Céline's immense global popularity, he faces the question of what drives personal taste - and whether it's possible to change it.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Milledge on December 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
When I took Introduction to Aesthetics in college, I wish we had a text as smart, accessible, funny, and just plain awesome as this little book on Celine Dion to introduce us to the material. What Wilson has done here with his approach to the subject of taste and tackiness is nothing less than stunning. It is a must read for people who write about music and those that love to read about it.

Nota bene: You need not be a fan of Celine Dion to love this book.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Phil the Hypothetical on February 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
It took over a year of hearing about this book before I finally caved in and bought it, and now I'm kicking myself that I didn't buy the book when it first came out! It's hard to do Carl Wilson's book justice when it has so much to say, and says it so beautifully. So let's start with the obvious: DO NOT LET THE SUBJECT MATTER TURN YOU OFF! Yes, it's a book about Celine, but it's so much more than that. It's warm, erudite, smart, funny, insightful, provocative, kind, approachable, and ultimately moving. Sure, I can see the argument that the whole concept is a bit of a stunt ("Look, everyone, I'm going to write a book about something I hate!") but when it's done this brilliantly, who cares? This is the kind of book that should be a best seller, and I really hope the author publishes another book soon.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Raffel on April 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've read all of the 33 1/3s, and most of them are great books, each in their own way. So when I say Let's Talk About Love is my new favorite, you should trust me, b/c I know what I'm talking about. And I don't care one whit for Celine Dion... can't stand her. But Carl Wilson is an amazing writer. Maybe the best music critic we've got (visit his blog, Zolius!) and this book is truly a brilliant piece of work that waaaaay exceeds the parameters of its subject.

Check it out - you'll be glad you did, I swear.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bradley G. Bechtel on March 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Why is someone like Céline Dion so popular? What does her popularity say about those who love her music, and more importantly, those who are critical of her career? Carl Wilson takes on these subjects and others in thoughtful, appreciative look at taste, criticism, and almost incidentally her 1997 best-selling release, featuring "My Heart Will Go On".

This is thoughtful, erudite reading, one of my favorite books I've read this year. I'd recommend it for anyone who is into music of whatever kind. Sure, Wilson throws big words around. If that bothers you, get a dictionary and look them up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lee on December 27, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting, thoughtful, and humane book with a touch of humor by a prominent music critic. Carl Wilson takes his best shot at redeeming Celine Dion from the critical consensus that she is supremely kitsch and uncool. He does this as an exercise, in order to demonstrate how that seemingly solid judgment can actually rest on snobbery, nationalism, ignorance, and class anxiety. The details are very interesting: we learn about the political history of Quebec, the turn against sentimentality in art, and how improvements in microphone technology led to the denigration of "big voice" style.

Wilson's fresh summary of Pierre Bourdieu's *Distinction* and some more recent empirical work is very good and benefits greatly from his pop-culture examples. I was surprised to learn of the survey results demonstrating that people with greater musical tolerance easily learn to appreciate the music associated with racial minorities (jazz, latin, etc.), but only extremely tolerant listeners do not shun heavy metal, gospel, and other music associated with low education. I suspect Wilson is on to something when he suggests that critics' extreme distaste for Celion Dion is partly motivated by a desire to distance themselves from low education / "white trash" culture.

The author also name-checks Hume, Kant, and other deep thinkers on the nature of taste, but these philosophical parts of the book are the shortest and least enlightening.

Later in the book Wilson meets with some fans of Dion to discuss why they like her music and what she means to them. This section cashes out the more speculative, sociological/philosophical passages. Wilson displays a deep humanity in these chapters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Celine Dion.

What’s your response? Like me, it’s probably: ick. Right?

Well, you’re not alone as nearly everyone seems to have this response to Dion mostly thanks to her obnoxious monster hit, My Heart Will Go On, from James Cameron’s Titanic that won an Oscar and sold bazillions of copies worldwide. But chances are you won’t have heard much of her music beyond that song, or know much about her as a person, and yet the response to Dion is still: ick. Why?

That’s what Carl Wilson sets out to discover in his look at Dion’s album Let’s Talk About Love. But unlike the other books in the 33 ⅓ series, Dion’s album is barely touched upon as Wilson chooses instead to examine what “taste” is and how people form critical opinions in culture.

What Wilson does in the book is definitely interesting and laudable but I found his conclusions to be a little obvious and his approach a bit too academic at times. He basically comes to chastise himself for being too much of a snob to exclude Dion and pop music in general because he perceives it to be schmaltzy and decides to be more inclusive of his cultural intake - which is fine, but isn’t an eye-opening revelation (not to me anyway as this is already my own personal approach to all things cultural) especially when that’s what you’d expect in a book that sets itself up the way it has.

I appreciate the extensive research Wilson’s put into his book like informing the reader of Dion’s life and background, and putting her personality into the context of her Quebec upbringing - if nothing else, you’ll come away knowing a lot about Dion as a person. But did we really need an entire chapter on schmaltz?
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