Speed reading

Pub date February 6, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionLiterature

In 2005, Xiu Xiu embarked on a tour and invited their fans to send them blank Polaroid instant film and an SASE. In turn, photographer David Horvitz took on the task of documenting the group’s travels, snapping shots in places ranging from backstage nooks to hotel bathrooms. Each day, Horvitz mailed packages containing 10 unique candid photos to the fans who provided film and envelopes: anyone who participated was rewarded with personal art from the tour. But Horvitz first scanned the photos and compiled them to create Xiu Xiu: The Polaroid Project (Mark Batty Publisher, 126 pages, $24.95). The result is a book containing nudity, blood, and urine, as well as empty skies, ocean views, and the landscape of backwoods America. The reader is left to fill in the blanks and imagine the circumstances behind each photo Even for those unfamiliar with the band, the adventure is well worth it. (Vice Cooler)

Continuum’s 331/3 series takes an unexpected turn with critic Carl Wilson’s witty, insightful, same-named exploration of Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk about Love (Continuum, 176 pages, $10.95). Tellingly, the book is subtitled A Journey to the End of Taste; the 1997 album — which sold more than 30 million copies and contains the dental-office standard “My Heart Will Go On” — is not. Wilson discusses how his feelings for his fellow Canadian’s music shifted from loathing to — well, he never becomes a fan, but during her Vegas show he has a moment of near appreciation. Along the way, he peers into the singer’s soul, touching on Quebec’s cultural history (including Dion’s rise from hometown hero to international superstar), Dion bashing at the height or depths of Titanic mania (in a chapter titled “Let’s Talk about Hate”), and the meaning of schmaltz, via analysis and some well-placed pop-cult references. He also investigates bigger questions that transcend the Dion debate: by whose standards, exactly, do we define guilty pleasures — and bad taste? (Cheryl Eddy)