OK, granted, this is this first thing I've read by Dave Hickey, so I may not be giving his overall legacy a fair review. I know he's been around for awhile and has made numerous contributions to many top-notch magazines and journals. This book was recommended to me by a guy in a Williamsburg bookshop, and despite the pretentious accusation of 'genius' slapped on the front cover, I glanced through the book (spotting some obviously great writing) and bought it on the spot.
I was really taken by his unabashed, intimate style for several chapters of the book, until he began his defenses of art dealing and art criticism and his pompous attacks on 'spectators' versus 'participants' (are critics participants?) in his version of the art world. Sorry Dave, this doesn't wash and you know it --- simply announcing that 'Art is not a commodity' simplifies a huge can of worms best dealt with by Debord or even Hakim Bey, not by an art dealer aspiring to belong to this community, rather than getting dirty in the spectating and profiteering himself. When I hit the end of a couple of these verbose defenses of his history of 'dirty occupations', I was left thinking, 'Is it that important you were an art dealer?', or 'Who really cares that you're an art critic?'.
I simply want to be regaled with tales of Sigfried and Roy, or stomp in the boots of Hank Williams, or read Dave's ridiculous opinions on Chet Baker and, most importantly, laugh (or even smile out loud). This is where he is at his best, and consequently where the book shines. It is great writing, indeed, but too bad Dave feels it's necessary to namedrop and pontificate to purge himself from the sea of soulless art critics. Just do what you do best, and write!