Dave Hickey is a freelance writer of fiction and cultural criticism who lives in New Mexico. He has written for most major cultural publications in the US and abroad, including The Rolling Stone, Art News, Artforum, Harpers, Vanity Fair, Playboy, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The London Review of Books, Frieze International in the UK, Situation in Paris, and Parkett in Zurich. He is the author of numerous essay and story collections, including Prior Convictions, Invisible Dragons: Four Essays on Beauty, and Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy, plus hundreds of exhibition catalogue monographs on contemporary artists. He has lectured extensively at universities and institutions around the world. His forthcoming books include Pagan America from Free Press, Pirates and Farmers: Essays on Culture and the Marketplace from Karsten Schubert, London, and Connoisseur of Waves: More Essays on Art and Democracy, from the University of Chicago Press.
I’m reading three books about my heroes:
Dr John: Under a Hoodoo Moon, by Doctor John and Jack Rummel — Really fun. Lots of smack of every variety, blood and music.
Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West by Hampton Sides, about Kit Carson — Five times as impressive as the title. Good writing and no bullshit.
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow — This is the book about my man. 800 pages and worth every one.
Two books from great mystery series. Genre books on steroids:
Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr — Another adventure in which snarky detective Bernie Gunther tries to smuggle justice into the Nazi State. This is some crisp, ruthless writing about an evil time whose residue we still recognize in the culture around us.
Vulture Peak by John Burdett — Another book in Burdett’s sublime series about Sonchai Jitpleecheep, devout Buddhist and member of the Royal Police Force. For a cross-cultural mystery Burdett’s books are humane to the point of feeling clairvoyant.
The Last Pagans of Rome by Alan Cameron — This is the best scholarly book I have read in years. It is well written, meticulous, fair minded about the competition, virtually free of academic blah, and full of hot stuff about Constantine’s Rome and the idiocracy that rose up in its aftermath.
Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan — I just started this book in my own genre of whacked out meditations on the edges and the depths of American culture. It’s pretty hot so far. I consider Sullivan a worthy companion out here in the weird place.
What are your genre books on steroids?