"Reading How Literature Saved My Life is like getting
to listen in on a really great, smart, provocative conversation.
The book is not straightforward, it resists any single
interpretation, and it seems to me to constitute nothing less than
a new form." --Whitney Otto
In this wonderfully intelligent, stunningly honest, painfully
funny book, acclaimed writer David Shields uses himself as a
representative for all readers and writers who seek to find
salvation in literature.
Blending confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography,
Shields explores the power of literature (from Blaise Pascal's
Pensées to Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Renata Adler's
Speedboat to Proust's Remembrance of Things Past)
to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Shields evokes his
deeply divided personality (his "ridiculous" ambivalence), his
character flaws, his woes, his serious despairs. Books are his life
raft, but when they come to feel un-lifelike and archaic, he revels
in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and
consciousness. And he shares with us a final irony: 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."
A captivating, thought-provoking, utterly original way of thinking
about the essential acts of reading and writing.