Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

Front Cover
Hamish Hamilton, 2010 - Literary manifestos - 219 pages
7 Reviews
In Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, his landmark new book, David Shields argues that our culture is obsessed with 'reality' precisely because we experience hardly any. Most artistic movements are attempts to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art. So, too, every artistic movement or moment needs a credo, from Horace's Ars Poetica to Lars von Trier's 'Vow of Chastity.' Shields has written the ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists in a variety of forms and media who, living in an unbearably manufactured and artificial world, are striving to stay open to the possibility of randomness, accident, serendipity, spontaneity; actively courting reader/ listener/viewer participation, artistic risk, emotional urgency; breaking larger and larger chunks of 'reality' into their work; and, above all, seeking to erase any distinction between fiction and nonfiction. The questions Reality Hunger explores -- the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real -- play out constantly all around us. Think of the now endless controversy surrounding the provenance and authenticity of the 'real': A Million Little Pieces, the Obama 'Hope' poster, the sequel to The Catcher in the Rye, Robert Capa's 'The Falling Soldier' photograph, the boy who wasn't in the balloon. Reality Hunger is a rigorous and radical attempt to reframe how we think about 'truthiness, ' literary license, quotation, appropriation. Drawing on myriad sources, Shields takes an audacious stance on issues that are being fought over now and will be fought over far into the future. People will either love or hate this book. Its converts will see it as a rallying cry; its detractors will view it as an occasion for defending the status quo. It is certain to be one of the most controversial and talked-about books of the year.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ucla70 - LibraryThing

I really found it bothersome to refer to the Appendix to see who wrote or said each epigram. And I did refer to that section often despite Shields' admonition to "Stop; don't read any farther." Some ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thatotter - LibraryThing

The cover flap says "People will either love or hate this book." But really I found it interesting in concept, mildly boring in execution. I disliked the effect of having hundreds of quotations without context, and I kept wanting to skim. Read full review

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About the author (2010)

David Shields was born in Los Angeles, California on July 22, 1956. He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from Brown University in 1978 and an MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1980. He writes both fiction and nonfiction books. His first novel, Heroes, was published in 1984. His other works include Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, How Literature Saved My Life, and Other People: Takes & Mistakes. Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity won the PEN/Revson Award and Dead Languages won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. He is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington.

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