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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

Shields, David

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"Reality Hunger" is a manifesto for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists who, living in an unbearably artificial world, are breaking ever larger chunks of 'reality' into their work. The questions Shields explores - the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real - play out constantly around us, and "Reality Hunger" is a radical reframing of how we might think about this 'truthiness': about literary licence, quotation, and appropriation in television, film, performance art, rap, and graffiti, in lyric essays, prose poems, and collage novels. 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. Converts will see "Reality Hunger" as a call to arms; detractors will view it as an occasion to defend the status quo. It is certain to be one of the most controversial and talked about books of the season.

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Review:

Sarah Manguso Reviews Reality Hunger

Sarah Manguso is the author of The Two Kinds of Decay, a memoir, and two books of poetry, Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise. Read Manguso's guest review of Reality Hunger:

"I doubt very much that I’m the only person who’s finding it more and more difficult to want to read or write novels," David Shields acknowledges in Reality Hunger, then seeks to understand how the conventional literary novel has become as lifeless a form as the mass market bodice-ripper. Shields provides an ars poetica for writers and other artists who, exhausted by the artificiality of our culture, "obsessed by real events because we experience hardly any," are taking larger and larger pieces of the real world and using them in their work. Reality Hunger is made of 600-odd numbered fragments, many of them quotations from other sources, some from Shields’s own books, but none properly sourced--the project being not a treasure hunt or a con but a good-faith presentation of what literature might look like if it caught up to contemporary strategies and devices used in the other arts, and allowed for samples (that is, quotation from art and from the world) to revivify existing forms. Shields challenges the perceived superiority of the imagination and exposes conventional literary pieties as imitation writing, the textual equivalent of artificial flavoring, sleepwalking, and small talk. I can’t name a more necessary or a more thrilling book. --Sarah Manguso

(Photo © Marion Ellinger)

About the Author:

David Shields is the author of several previous books, including Dead Languages: A Novel in Stories and, most recently, the 2008 New York Times bestseller The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll be Dead. www.davidshields.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 216 x 150 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780307273536

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 216 x 150 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780307273536

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