Shields on the Novel

Views of Reality Hunger by David Shields.The consensus--who cares? and go away--said far more politely, of course. 

I'm of the ho-hum school.  The book is subtitled  "A Manifesto" so it's obviously a book driven by one person's agenda.  From the description of it, not an agenda I have the least interest in.  I haven't cared for most of the highly footnoted fiction I've glanced at, nor with most of the fragments, anti-novels, or experiments in form.  They're all fine for what they are, but I'm obviously not the intended audience and I'm okay with that.  If an author wants to write for the 30 people in the world willing to tolerate her/his written version of LaTourette's, more power to him/her.


  1. "Ho-hum" is right.

    Every decade or so, for as long as I can remember, somebody who wants to have a "best-seller" or make a name for himself/herself decides "the novel is dead."

    I think Barth did it decades ago in his essay "Literature of Exhaustion," and then when he escaped from his writer's block, wrote another essay, "The Literature of Replenishment," his "solution" for "literature's problem."

    Will his book be remembered a year from now?

  2. Steven - The metafiction experiments in form ended up in a cul de sac, producing a couple of interesting (e.g. David Markson) works. The surprising aspect to Shields's "manifesto" is that it comes from a writer in his fifties. A youthful flirtation with literary theory and the avant-garde is more comprehensible.

  3. Dear Anthony,

    I've not read the book, and so I've no right to say anything about it other than impressions picked up from reading the reviews of others. But Mr. Shield's does seem to think that we should do for literature what Reality Television did for the desolate wasteland of television.

    I'll leave it for the student to determine whether that would be a good thing or not.




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