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Enough about You: Notes Toward the New Autobiographyby David Shields
Thursday, December 12, 2013 07:30 PM
Powell's City of Books on Burnside, Portland, OR
Blending confessional criticism and cultural autobiography, David Shields explores the power of literature to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Evoking his deeply divided personality, his character flaws, his woes, his serious despair, he wants "literature to assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn't lie about this — which is what makes it essential." How Literature Saved My Life (Vintage) is a captivating, thought-provoking, utterly original book about the essential acts of reading and writing.
Synopses & Reviews
What does it mean to construct a self? What does it mean to turn your life into a narrative? What's gained? What's lost? What lies inevitably get told? What deeper truths are reached or at least reached for? Enough About You has no answers to these questions, but it frames and asks these questions in a much more overt, honest, precise, and provocative way than any book has attempted yet, and tries to do so while also delivering the pleasures of narrative, of memoir, of search-for-self.
With moving and often hilarious candor, Shields explores the connections between fiction and nonfiction, stuttering and writing, literary forms and literary contents, art and life; he confronts bad reviews of his earlier books; he examines why he read a college girlfriend's journal; he raids a wide range of cultural figures (from Rousseau, Nabokov, and Salinger to Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, and Bobby Knight) for what they have to tell him about himself.
Enough About You is a book about David Shields. But it is also a terrifically engrossing exploration and exploitation of self-reflection, self-absorption, full-blown narcissism, and the impulse to write about oneself. In a world awash with memoirs and tell-alls, Shields has created something unique: he invites the reader into his mind as he turns his life into a narrative.
"Enough About You exudes a razor-edged, sad-sack sensibility that's hard to resist — like Jerry Seinfeld crossed with Lydia Davis or Maurice Blanchot. As with fellow creative nonfictioneers Hilton Als and Bernard Cooper, Shields's graceful prose makes a meal of ephemera." Joy Press, Village Voice
"Shields's style is startling in its clarity and candor." The Oregonian
"Enough About You is an autobiography that complicates the process of autobiographical writing, of talking about oneself directly, at every turn... 'Seamless' would be the wrong word for this book, but Shields's ability to weave a coherent and rather likable voice — ironic, self-implicating, blackly funny, hopeful — through these disjointed passages is impressive." Elaine Blair, Newsday
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