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Authors: David Shields

Reality Hunger

BOOK: Reality Hunger
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“Provocative, brain-rewiring.… A book that feels at least five years ahead of its time and teaches you how to read it as you go.”

—Alex Pappademas,

“Maybe he’s simply ahead of the rest of us, mapping out the literary future of the next generation.”

—Susan H. Greenberg,

“A work of virtuoso banditry that promises to become, like Lewis Hyde’s
The Gift
for earlier generations, the book that artists in all media turn to for inspiration, vindication, and altercation as they struggle to reinvent themselves against the headwinds of our time.”

—Rob Nixon,
The Chronicle of Higher Education

“A rare and very peculiar thing: a wake-up call that is a pleasure to hear and respond to.”

—Geoff Dyer

“This dude’s book is the hip-hop album of the year.”

—Peter Macia,

“I don’t think it would be too strong to say that Shields’s book will be a sort of bible for the next generation of culture-makers.”

—David Griffith,

“One of the most provocative books I’ve ever read.… I think it’s destined to become a classic.”

—Charles D’Ambrosio

“Voracious and elegantly structured.… Entertaining, insightful, and impressively broad.… An invigorating shakedown of the literary status quo: recommended for readers, essential for writers.”

—Scott Indrisek,
Time Out New York

“Shields has put a bullet in the brain of our ridiculously oversimplified compulsion to think of everything as a narrative.”

—Paul Constant,
The Stranger

“Might be the most intense, thought-accelerating book of the last ten years.”

—Chuck Klosterman

“Shields has a point. He gives a damn. He’s trying to make a difference. He’s using the best of his formidable talents to do that.”

—Wayne Alan Brenner,
The Austin Chronicle

“Witty, insightful, and compulsively readable. Every page abounds in fresh observations.”

—Lydia Davis

“This is the book our sick-at-heart moment needs—like a sock in the jaw or an electric jolt in the solar plexus—to wake it up.”

—Wayne Koestenbaum

“Absorbing, even inspiring.… The ideas [Shields] raises are so important, his ideas are so compelling, that I raved about this book the whole time I was reading it and have regularly quoted it to friends in the weeks since.”

—Jami Attenberg,

“Brilliant. It keeps the reader alert and attentive and excited through sheer intelligence, epigrammatic concision, wit, and sheer rightness, as when a pronouncement is so correct that it just pulls all the clouds aside.… There’s a feeling of the imminence of violence in these perceptions. This is a great compliment.”

—Charles Baxter

“Thrilling to read, even if you disagree with much of it.”

—Zadie Smith,
The Guardian

“Shields says things here that I have thought, wished I thought, wished someone would say. A sparky, brainy, passionate, often very funny, and never small-hearted or pinch-minded book: rigorous, demanding but generous and searching and self-debunking.”

—Patricia Hampl

“I love this book and am amused to see some of the hysterical reactions it’s provoked—proof, I think, of its radical truthfulness. Shields is utterly uninterested in providing intellectual comfort; he bravely, uncompromisingly delivers the news.”

—Walter Kirn

David Shields

David Shields is the author of nine previous books, including
The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
, a
New York Times
Black Planet
, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and
, winner of the PEN/Revson Award. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.


The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine
Enough About You: Notes Toward the New Autobiography
“Baseball Is Just Baseball”: The Understated Ichiro
Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season
Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity
Handbook for Drowning: A Novel in Stories
Dead Languages: A Novel
Heroes: A Novel


Copyright © 2010 by David Shields

All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, in 2010.

Vintage and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition as follows:
Shields, David, 1956–
   Reality hunger : a manifesto / by David Shields.—1st ed.
      p. cm.
   1. Literature, Modern—21st century—History and criticism.
   2. Literary manifesti.  3. Modernism (Literature).
   I. Title.
   PN781.S55 2010
   809’.9112—dc22              2009030237

eISBN: 978-0-307-59323-8

Author photograph © Tom Collicott


For Michael Logan and James Nugent

I would like to express my deep gratitude for fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Artist Trust, and the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

     All great works of literature
either dissolve a genre or invent one.


Art is theft.


When we are not sure, we are alive.


BOOK: Reality Hunger
2.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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