Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

by David Shields

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | February 23, 2010 | Hardcover |

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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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: February 23, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307273539

ISBN - 13: 9780307273536

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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

by David Shields

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 240 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: February 23, 2010

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307273539

ISBN - 13: 9780307273536

About the Book

Fresh from his acclaimed exploration of mortality in the genre-defying, bestselling "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead," Shields issues an open call for new literary and other art forms to match the complexities of the 21st century.

Read from the Book

a overture 1 Every artistic movement from the beginning of time is an attempt to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art. Zola: “Every proper artist is more or less a realist according to his own eyes.” Braque’s goal: “To get as close as I could to reality.” E.g., Chekhov’s diaries, E. M. Forster’s Commonplace Book, Fitzgerald’s The Crack-Up (much his best book), Cheever’s posthumously ?pub?lished journals (same), Edward Hoagland’s journals, Alan ?Bennett’s Writing Home. So, too, every artistic movement or moment needs a credo: Horace’s Ars Poetica, Sir Philip Sid- ney’s Defence of Poesie, André Breton’s “Surrealist Manifesto,” Dogme 95’s “Vow of Chasity.” My intent is to write the ars poetica for a burgeoning group of interrelated (but unconnected) artists in a multitude of forms and media (lyric essay, prose poem, collage novel, visual art, film, television, radio, performance art, rap, stand-up comedy, graffiti) who are breaking larger and larger chunks of “reality” into their work. (Reality, as Nabokov never got tired of reminding us, is the one word that is meaningless without quotation marks.) 2 Jeff Crouse’s plug-in Delete City. The quasi–home movie Open Water. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit ?Glo?rious Nation of Kazakhstan. Joe Frank’s radio show I
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From the Publisher

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.

From the Jacket

"A manifesto on behalf of a rising generation of writers and artists, a 'Make It New' for a new century, an all-out assault on tired generic conventions." -J. M. Coetzee

"I've just finished reading Reality Hunger and I'm lit up by it-astonished, intoxicated, ecstatic, overwhelmed." -Jonathan Lethem

About the Author

David Shields is the author of nine previous books, including Black Planet, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Remote, winner of the PEN/Revson Award. His work has been translated into a dozen languages.

Editorial Reviews

"In his new book, Reality Hunger , David Shields makes a case that a new literary form has arrived. [He] challenges our most basic literary assumptions about originality, authenticity, and creativity. Reality Hunger has caused a stir in literary circles. [The book] has struck a nerve." --Andrew Richard Albanese, Publishers Weekly (cover article)  " Reality Hunger is an exhilarating smash-up. . . . a work of virtuoso banditry that promises to become, like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift for earlier generations, the book that artists in all media turn to for inspiration, vindication, and altercation as they struggle to reinvent themselves against the headwinds of our time." --Rob Nixon, Chronicle of Higher Education   " Maybe he’s simply ahead of the rest of us, mapping out the literary future of the next generation." --Susan H. Greenberg, Newsweek   "The driving force behind this entertaining and highly persuasive polemic is a frustration with the contemporary mainstream novel. . . . I can’t stop recommending it to my friends. There is no more effective description (and example) of the aesthetic concerns of the internet age than this." --Edward King, The Times of London   "Shields has a point. He gives a damn. He''s trying to make a difference. He''s using the best of his formidable talents to do that." --Wayne Alan Brenner, The Austin Chronicle     "I love this book and am amused to see some of the hysterical reactions it’s pro
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