“HE’S YOUNG, HE’S CUTE, AND HE SHOOTS WHOEVER GETS ON YOUR NERVES.
THE PERFECT BOYFRIEND”

Greeted with initial critical interest and later bafflment, David Shields’s Reality Hunger (interview) compiles 618 bits and pieces from other literary works to amass a contention that nonfiction speaks a truth for which fiction is now mute. I buy the argument, though the disjointed tones of the book – tautologically, there couldn’t possibly be a consistent tone – made it a tad hard to follow while reading it for 20 minutes at a time on the subway.

But if one in fact does read the much-discussed, legally-mandated endnoted citations, lo and behold it turns out all the good parts of the book are original works by Shields, or are somebody else’s words goosed up a bit by Shields. As an example:

In the aftermath of the Million Little Pieces outrage, Random House reached a tentative settlement with readers who felt defrauded by Frey. To receive a refund, hoodwinked customers had to mail in a piece of the book: For hardcover owners it was page 163; those with paperback copies were required to actually tear off the front cover and send it in. Also, readers had to sign a sworn statement confirming that they had bought the book with the belief it was a real memoir or, in other words, that they felt bad having accidentally read a novel. [Nº 118]

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.07.06 15:32. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2010/07/06/realityhunger/

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