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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.