A landmark book, “brilliant, thoughtful” (The Atlantic) and “raw and gorgeous” (LA Times), that fast-forwards the discussion of the central artistic issues of our time, from the bestselling author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead.
Who owns ideas? How clear is the distinction between fiction and nonfiction? Has the velocity of digital culture rendered traditional modes obsolete? Exploring these and related questions, Shields orchestrates a chorus of voices, past and present, to reframe debates about the veracity of memoir and the relevance of the novel. He argues that our culture is obsessed with “reality,” precisely because we experience hardly any, and urgently calls for new forms that embody and convey the fractured nature of contemporary experience.
David Shields is the bestselling author of twenty books, including The Thing About Life, Reality Hunger, Black Planet, Remote, and War Is Beautiful. He and his wife live in Seattle, where he is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. His work has been translated into twenty languages.
Praise for David Shields’s Reality Hunger
“A literary battle cry for the creation of a new genre, one that doesn’t draw distinctions between fiction and nonfiction, originality and plagiarism, memoir and fabrication, scripted and unscripted. . . . David Shields [is] brilliant, thoughtful, and yes, original.” —The Atlantic
“Reality Hunger urgently and succinctly addresses matters that have been in the air, have relentlessly gathered momentum, and have just been waiting for someone to link them together. . . . [It] heralds what will be the dominant modes in years and decades to come.” —The New York Times Book Review
"The merely literary questions, however, the questions for readers and writers, are not what distinguish Reality Hunger as the truly necessary book that it has become. Shields identified a spiritual state that has come to dominate American culture as a whole." —Stephen Marche, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“David Shields draws on a wide range of reference, mixing historical reports, personal events, discussions of new media, and literary quotations (some verbatim, others rejigged), to construct a protean polemic that is also an account . . . of his own mental life. . . . Most importantly, Shields knows how to provoke argument without needing to crush all opposition. Rather, the tussle between reader and writer over the nature of reality, the nature of the text we are reading, is itself the aesthetic experience he is after.” —The New York Review of Books
“Good manifestos propagate. Their seeds cling to journals and blogs and conversations, soon enough sprawling sub-manifestoes of acclamation or rebuttal. After the opening call to action, a variety of minds turn their attention to the same problem. It’s the humanist ideal of a dialectic writ large: ideas compete and survive by fitness, not fiat. David Shields’s Reality Hunger has just the immodest ambition and exhorter’s zeal to bring about this happy scenario.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Shields’s radical intellectual manifesto is a rousing call to arms for all artists to reject the laws governing appropriation, obliterate the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and give rise to a new modern form.” —Vanity Fair
"The merely literary questions, however, the questions for readers and writers, are not what distinguish Reality Hunger as the truly necessary book that it has become. Shields identified a spiritual state that has come to dominate American culture as a whole." —Los Angeles Review of Books