Reality Hunger: Where Art and Life Entwine

March 25, 2010 § 2 Comments


We don’t mean to lean negative on Reality Hunger, David Shield’s intriguing, challenging, quick-witted literary manifesto.  In fact, here at Brevity, we stick to our original impression — we agree with about half, disagree with about half, remain fascinated by the questions Shields ask, and are glad he wrote the book.  So, let’s leaven some of the recent “where Shields got it wrong” posts with a very positive but balanced review from one of the smartest book critics in the business, Donna Seaman, in Booklist:

Shields is a balance-beam critic, taking his critiques of life and art to the edge and executing breath-catching leaps and flips. He doesn’t always stick the landing, but he’s always entrancing. After confronting death in The Thing about Life Is That One Day You Will Be Dead (2008), Shields looks to art in the digital start to the twenty-first century and issues a declaration of innovation. He presents his brain-teasing argument in numbered aphorisms, succinct and memorable pronouncements on the age-old effort to “to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art.” As he applauds the ascendancy of the lyric essay, the significance of collage, the legitimacy of appropriation, and the blurring of fact and fiction, he creates an assemblage of sampled quotes without attribution, until one turns to the endnotes where Goethe meets William Gibson. Thus provocateur Shields constructs just the sort of mash-up he audaciously and brilliantly celebrates as the new art paradigm for the participant-driven Internet zeitgeist, where art and life entwine in one big, loud reality show.

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§ 2 Responses to Reality Hunger: Where Art and Life Entwine

  • Tracy Seeley says:

    I’m also glad he wrote this book; no book has been more exciting or made me think so hard in a very long time. The best things about it, for me, are its daring, and its celebration of the essay’s best possibilities. AND, it has energized fascinating discussion across the virtual universe.

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