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Publisher's Summary

When Dave Hickey was 12, he rode the surfer's dream: the perfect wave. And, like so many things in life we long for, it didn't quite turn out - he shot the pier and dashed himself against the rocks of Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, which just about killed him. Fortunately, for Hickey and for us, he survived, and continues to battle, decades into a career as one of America's foremost critical iconoclasts, a trusted, even cherished no-nonsense voice commenting on the all-too-often nonsensical worlds of art and culture.
Perfect Wave brings together essays on a wide range of subjects from throughout Hickey's career, displaying his usual breadth of interest and powerful insight into what makes art work, or not, and why we care. With Hickey as our guide, we travel to Disneyland and Vegas, London and Venice. We discover the genius of Karen Carpenter and Waylon Jennings, learn why Robert Mitchum matters more than Jimmy Stewart, and see how the stillness of Antonioni speaks to us today.
Never slow to judge - or to surprise us in doing so - Hickey powerfully relates his wincing disappointment in the later career of his early hero Susan Sontag, and shows us the appeal to our commonality that we've been missing in Norman Rockwell. With each essay, the doing is as important as what's done; the pleasure of listening to Dave Hickey's words lies nearly as much in spending time in his company as in being surprised to find yourself agreeing with his conclusions. Bookended by previously unpublished personal essays that offer a new glimpse into Hickey's own life - including the aforementioned slam-bang conclusion to his youthful surfing career - Perfect Wave is not a perfect book. But it's a damn good one, and a welcome addition to the Hickey canon.
Cover copyright Sweet Ice Cream Photography.
©2017 Dave Hickey (P)2017 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jim on 06-17-18

Hickey's Essays Are Enlightening and Extraordinary

MacArthur Fellow, writer, art critic, songwriter, lecturer and art curator Dave Hickey presents his astonishing insights on a variety of subjects from Disney World to surfing in California as a youngster; Susan Sontag; jazz musicians; his own work and so much more. Despite some esoteric references (usually about artists and fine art) he's never supercilious. In fact, he offers a voice that's at once down-home and urbane. No idea if he had an extensive formal education or is an autodidact. I'd place my heavier money on the latter. Regardless, these essays are enlightening and edifying. I have all of Hickey's books and consider them part of my ongoing education. I'll take everything cerebral he has to offer. Also, reader Joe Barrett is the perfect choice here. I know it's blasphemous not to go all warm and runny about Scott Brick, who does a good job, but Barrett IMO eclipses any reader in the audible stable. He's literally pitch perfect.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Susie Bright on 11-30-17

Get Your Mind Blown The Hickey Way

​There is no greater way to reset your priorities than to listen to ​a ​Dave Hickey thread​ on​ art, culture, philosophy, politics, sociology and ​his unique personal reflections​. What a tapestry​. It's the original magic carpet ride​.

From ​leaving Texas in the menacing shadows of his narcissistic parents— to shooting the pier in the permanent California sunshine on a board named Milton—​ Dave's memories evoke a palpable nostalgia like few others.

His essay on William Claxton looks at freedom from someone who ​actually ​experienced it, reflecting on cool and esthetics of the time, "If the cars of that era resembled the cars of this one-- I wouldn't be an art critic​.​" ​Hickey ​grinds ​on ​"​American cool​"​ going all the way back to George Washington.

Joe Barrett​, the narrator,​ is a campfire storyteller. I had so much fun listening to him, I'd be blindsided finding myself in tears. I didn't know the bombs were coming.

Smart, fun, enlightening, and entertaining. I can't recommend this highly enough.

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