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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto Cover

ISBN13: 9780307273536
ISBN10: 0307273539
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

In Reality Hunger, Shields draws from classic and contemporary sources — artists, writers, philosophers, and more — to present a collage of ideas that is erudite and provocative. It's a book of intentional plagiarism that casts new light on ideas of ownership, appropriation, and reality
Recommended by Sheila A., Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Reality Hunger is a collection of wisdoms and aphorisms, some borrowed/stolen/appropriated from others, some written by Shields himself — which layer one upon the other to shimmer with an insistence on a literature that reflects modern life's many complexities and contradictions. The book presents its arguments in the style of Pascal's Pensees or Montaigne's Essays, and is equally as scintillating — a thrill to many who'll read this book, a poke in the eye to plenty of others." Debra Gwartney, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An open call for new literary and other art forms to match the complexities of the twenty-first century.

Reality TV dominates broadband. YouTube and Facebook dominate the web. In Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, his landmark new book, David Shields (author of the New York Times best seller The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead) 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.

Review:

"Shields's latest reinvents the 'how to' while explaining how the hazy line between truth and lie undermines all forms of modern communication, an understanding that requires accepting the inherent imperfections and idiosyncrasies of a single writer's memory, intent, desire, and point of view. Shields's manifesto reads as a mixture between a diary and lecture-hall notes, each well-thought-out entry (titles include 'mimesis,' 'books for people who find television too slow,' 'blur,' 'hip-hop,' 'in praise of brevity') made up of a series of numbered paragraphs. Incorporated into his consideration of general themes in art are specific pieces of writing and music as well as current events, like the election of Barrack Obama. Shields references a multitude of well-known writers whom he considers definitive (or re-definitive) in literature; one writer that Shields returns to repeatedly is James Frey. Shields considers the Frey debacle, including his guest appearances on Oprah, by way of the imperfect human faculty for memory and communication, finding in Frey's story damning evidence that human beings are doomed to experience life alone. Touching, honest, and dizzyingly introspective, Shields (The Thing About Life is that One Day You'll be Dead) grapples lithely with truth, life, and literature by embracing his unique perspective, and invites each reader to do the same." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Fresh from his acclaimed exploration of mortality in the genre-defying, best-selling The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, David Shields has produced an open call for new literary and other art forms to match the complexities of the twenty-first century.

Shields's manifesto is an ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists who, living in an unbearably artificial world, are breaking ever larger chunks of reality into their work. The questions Shields explores — the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real — play out constantly around us, and Reality Hunger is a radical reframing of how we might think about this truthiness: about literary license, quotation, and appropriation in television, film, performance art, rap, and graffiti, in lyric essays, prose poems, and collage novels.

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. Converts will see Reality Hunger as a call to arms; detractors will view it as an occasion to defend the status quo. It is certain to be one of the most controversial and talked about books of the season.

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About the Author

David Shields is the author of nine previous books, including Black Planet, an NBCC finalist. He lives in Seattle and teaches at the University of Washington.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 12 comments:

tetons, March 8, 2010 (view all comments by tetons)
I found Shield's new book fascinating. Anyone, like me, who is both intrigued and troubled by the overwhelming abundance of reality TV, film and literature these days will find Reality Hunger a helpful remedy. I came away from this book with a new appreciation for reality-based art. Don't get me wrong: I've not suddenly become a fan of the awful reality shows on TV; but, Shield's book gives me hope that there are artists out there taking a very close look at how reality and truth can be used successfully. This last weekend I read an article on director, Paul Greengrass. One of my favorite films in the last decade was his "Bloody Sunday." He has a new film on the Iraq War coming out next month. A quote from the article: “I hope that when it works,” he added, “you get this sense of extreme emotional intimacy and sort of performed truthfulness with an extreme sense of captured reality.” Shield's book helps continue this type of conversation. Highly recommended.
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film2write, March 7, 2010 (view all comments by film2write)
David Shields has written another insightful, thought-provoking, and beautiful book.
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(3 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
tombadyna, February 28, 2010 (view all comments by tombadyna)
This is continuation of earlier review ...

I'd like to rebut this book's theses one by one as they seem not only largely idiotic but, given its apparently wide and mysterious appeal, dangerously so – so much so I'd label the literary philosophy of Mr. Shields Tea Party Poetics – but I don't know that it'd do any more good than using real-world logic on Palinistas. I leave off with brief counter-arguments to his foundational premise that 21rst c. society is so complex that invented narrative is inadequate to its understanding and, also, to his idea of reality in art, that for which he claims an unsatisfied hunger.

Since the beginning of the written word, old people have lamented the loss of the simpler times of their youths. That's provably true. It is also provably true that the act of history simplifies past times into, well, narrative. It necessarily leaves out most of the daily clutter of noise. Which does not mean that that static was not there. I think of one of my great-grandmothers who grew up in remote parts of a partitioned Poland. She worked her youth as a servant and spoke her own patois of Polish, Russian, German and French. It was a tricky, potentially deadly confusing confluence of three cultures with a fourth as a cultural overlay. She had to negotiate that within the confines of a backwoods Catholicism mixed in with goblins, jinns, evil spirits and a whole host of hocus pocus rigamarole to keep her safe between disease and death on one side, rape and indenturedness on the other – to say nothing of managing food supplies without refrigeration or supermarkets while learning to heart a thousand songs and fables to pass the nights. History has Poland neatly partitioned on maps and peasants simple inert markers on a board. I suspect we live in an ever-simpler world, that we're really not as smart as we used to be, but I wouldn't be able to prove it, not even to myself, and certainly would not use the claim but ironically, not even in the contriving of a new poetica. When I was twelve, I could take a discarded lawnmower and salvaged parts from trash heaps and make a serviceable go cart. Twelve year olds today can make a computer do some novel things. One, I don't see, is more complex than the other. I suspect Facebook is less complex than the social intricacies of hanging out unsupervised at the pharmacy's soda fountain with all its attendant perverts, bullies, theives, druggies, girls, so on, but why would I care to prove so one way or the other? How would I do so? When one of my great-grandfathers was twelve, he could run a farm – and did.

Mr. Shields says invented narrative served well in simpler times, but we're too advanced for the novelties of past dullards. Seems to me there's a fifty-three year old teacher a little lost in and intimidated by the world of his students. Also, he wishes to be young. And this is profound and challenging?

Lastly:

Mr. Shields states that the world has become so unbearably artificial that artists need to break ever-larger chunks of reality into their work. Best I can tell, these chunks of reality we're supposed to steal are the artistic efforts of the talented as well as untalented – which is to say, the manifesto-er here instructs that we create a new art out of the actual bricks and mortar of this unbearably artificial world. Honestly. That's what he's saying. It's the exact equivalent of the Tea Party idea of cutting taxes to reduce the deficit while keeping the government out of Medicare.

Narrative is a defining construct of the human mind, and invented narrative is the best way we have to understand that ideas, actions, words, even just being, all have consequences. Only in invented narrative can the philosophic contemplations of multiple souls play out not in the abstract but in the context of flesh and blood and reality.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307273536
Author:
Shields, David
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Subject:
Modernism (literature)
Subject:
Literature, Modern - 21st century -
Subject:
Semiotics & Theory
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Literary Criticism : General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.64x6.08x.97 in. .85 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Literary and Cultural Studies
Humanities » Literary Criticism » Short Stories

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307273536 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In Reality Hunger, Shields draws from classic and contemporary sources — artists, writers, philosophers, and more — to present a collage of ideas that is erudite and provocative. It's a book of intentional plagiarism that casts new light on ideas of ownership, appropriation, and reality

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Shields's latest reinvents the 'how to' while explaining how the hazy line between truth and lie undermines all forms of modern communication, an understanding that requires accepting the inherent imperfections and idiosyncrasies of a single writer's memory, intent, desire, and point of view. Shields's manifesto reads as a mixture between a diary and lecture-hall notes, each well-thought-out entry (titles include 'mimesis,' 'books for people who find television too slow,' 'blur,' 'hip-hop,' 'in praise of brevity') made up of a series of numbered paragraphs. Incorporated into his consideration of general themes in art are specific pieces of writing and music as well as current events, like the election of Barrack Obama. Shields references a multitude of well-known writers whom he considers definitive (or re-definitive) in literature; one writer that Shields returns to repeatedly is James Frey. Shields considers the Frey debacle, including his guest appearances on Oprah, by way of the imperfect human faculty for memory and communication, finding in Frey's story damning evidence that human beings are doomed to experience life alone. Touching, honest, and dizzyingly introspective, Shields (The Thing About Life is that One Day You'll be Dead) grapples lithely with truth, life, and literature by embracing his unique perspective, and invites each reader to do the same." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Reality Hunger is a collection of wisdoms and aphorisms, some borrowed/stolen/appropriated from others, some written by Shields himself — which layer one upon the other to shimmer with an insistence on a literature that reflects modern life's many complexities and contradictions. The book presents its arguments in the style of Pascal's Pensees or Montaigne's Essays, and is equally as scintillating — a thrill to many who'll read this book, a poke in the eye to plenty of others." (read the entire Oregonian review)
"Synopsis" by , Fresh from his acclaimed exploration of mortality in the genre-defying, best-selling The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, David Shields has produced an open call for new literary and other art forms to match the complexities of the twenty-first century.

Shields's manifesto is an ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists who, living in an unbearably artificial world, are breaking ever larger chunks of reality into their work. The questions Shields explores — the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real — play out constantly around us, and Reality Hunger is a radical reframing of how we might think about this truthiness: about literary license, quotation, and appropriation in television, film, performance art, rap, and graffiti, in lyric essays, prose poems, and collage novels.

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. Converts will see Reality Hunger as a call to arms; detractors will view it as an occasion to defend the status quo. It is certain to be one of the most controversial and talked about books of the season.

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