New York Times bestseller
Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, TimeOut Chicago
Chosen by Artforum as one of the 25 best books of the year
Best Reads of 2008, Salon
Chosen as one of the twenty best nonfiction books of 2008, Seattle Times
Chosen by Amazon as one of its Significant Seven for February 2008 and one of the 50 best books of the year
Powell's Books New Favorite, Staff Pick
Finalist for the Washington State Book Award, 2009
Mesmerized and somewhat unnerved by his 97-year-old father's vitality and optimism, David Shields undertakes an original investigation of our flesh-and-blood existence, our mortal being. Weaving together personal anecdote, biological fact, philosophical doubt, cultural criticism, and the wisdom of an eclectic range of writers and thinkers--from Lucretius to Woody Allen--Shields expertly renders both a hilarious family portrait and a truly resonant meditation on mortality. The Thing About Life provokes us to contemplate the brevity and radiance of our own sojourn on earth and challenges us to rearrange our thinking in crucial and unexpected ways.
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Amazon Significant Seven, February 2008: "After you turn 7, your risk of dying doubles every eight years." By your 80s, you "no longer even have a distinctive odor ... You're vanishing." "The brain of a 90-year-old is the same size as that of a 3-year-old." And it goes on and on. David Shields's litany of decay and decrepitude might have overwhelmed the age-sensitive reader (like this one), but The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead manages to transcend the maudlin by melding personal history with frank biological data about every stage of life, creating an "autobiography about my body" that seeks meaning in death, but moreover, life. Shields filters his frank--and usually foreboding--data through his own experience as a 51-year-old father with burgeoning back pain, contrasting his own gloomy tendencies with the defiant perspective of his own 97-year-old father, a man who has waged a lifelong, urgent battle against the infirmities of time. (If believed, his love life at age 70 was truly marvelous.) Interwoven with observations of philosophers from Cicero and Sophocles to Lauren Bacall and Woody Allen ("I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying."), Shields's book is a surprisingly moving and life-affirming embrace of the human condition, where inevitable failures and frailties become "thrilling" and "liberating," rather than dour portents of The End. --Jon Foro
Amazon.com Guest Review: Danielle Trussoni
David Shields's The Thing About Life is that One Day You’ll Be Dead is an addictively punchy, startlingly brilliant exploration of our most essential relationship--the one between parent and child. Shields juxtaposes a storm of astonishing facts about the development of the human body ("By the time you're 5, your head has attained 90 percent of its mature size; by 7, your brain reaches 90 percent of its maximum weight; by 9, 95 percent; during adolescence, 100 percent") with an intimate portrait of himself as a son and father. The result is a naked, honest, and often funny book that forces one to look clearly at the realities of the body--especially the burden that biology imposes upon our inner life--in a fresh and disturbing way. The writing is fast, postmodern, and filled with quotations from such diverse sources as Shields's back doctor and Tolstoy. The style might be dizzying in the hands of a less perceptive narrator, but Shields has the eye of an archeologist cataloging the bizarre traits of an ancient civilization. How Shields managed to compress the whole mess of love, family, genetics, and desire into this elegant, elemental book is a wonder. --Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir
David Shields's new book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, was published by Knopf in 2010. His previous book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, (Knopf, 2008), was a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of eight other books, including Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney's, and Utne Reader; he's written reviews for the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
Shields has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two NEA fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is a professor in the English department at the University of Washington. Since 1996 he has also been a member of the faculty in Warren Wilson College's low-residency MFA Program for Writers, in Asheville, North Carolina. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.
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Book Description Vintage, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000138816
Book Description Vintage, 2009. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "Shields is a sharp-eyed, self-deprecating, at times hilarious writer." Stephen Bates,The Wall Street Journal "Mix equal parts of anatomy and autobiography, science and self-disclosure, physiology and family history; shake, stir, add dashes of miscellany, pinches of borrowed wisdom, simmer over a low-grade fever of mortality, and a terrible beauty of a book is born." Thomas Lynch,The Boston Globe "An edifying, wise, unclassifiable mixture of filial love and Oedipal rage." Lev Grossman,Time "A primer on aging and death for those who take theirs without the sugar. . . . There's a comfort to be found in this sober investigation of mortality, in Shields's clear-eyed look at the ways in which we come undone." Benjamin Alsup,Esquire "Enthralling . . . Fascinating . . . Ultimately, the humanity of Shields' interior and exterior exploration is what makesThe Thing About Lifeand life itselfworthwhile." Meredith Maran,The San Francisco Chronicle "Shields undergoes his midlife crisis and comes out the other sidemore accessible than ever before, more tender, 'nicer.' And yetThe Thing About Lifeadroitly sidesteps sentimentalityvery hard to do when the core of it is a son's love for his cranky, tenacious, irascible, geriatric, Jewish father. I love this book." David Guterson "[An] informative and occasionally unsettling meditation on [Shields's] own aging body and his [97-year-old] nonagenarian father's seemingly endless vigor and strength . . . He writes with great candor about the vitality of his father. . . Also woven into the text are clever quotes on matters corporeal from the likes of Wordsworth, Wittgenstein, Woody Allen, and Martha Graham. Shields's memoir is a sobering, at times poignant, reminder that none of us gets out of this life alive." Booklist "David Shields has accomplished something here so pure and wide in its implications that I think of it almost as a secular, unsentimental Kahlil Gibran: a textbook for the acceptance of our fate on earth." Jonathan Lethem "It's a bold writer who dares to tackle head-on the subject of what it means to be humansomething that David Shields does with an extraordinary mixture of tenderness, humor, and inexhaustible curiosity." Jonathan Raban "The Thing About Lifegrabbed me from the start. It's extremely compelling, gorgeous in many places. I loved it. And I wish I had written it." Lauren Slater. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0307387968
Book Description VINTAGE BOOKS, 2009. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VR-9780307387967
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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 202 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. Mesmerized and somewhat unnerved by his 97-year-old father s vitality and optimism, David Shields undertakes an original investigation of our flesh-and-blood existence, our mortal being.Weaving together personal anecdote, biological fact, philosophical doubt, cultural criticism, and the wisdom of an eclectic range of writers and thinkers--from Lucretius to Woody Allen--Shields expertly renders both a hilarious family portrait and a truly resonant meditation on mortality.The Thing About Life provokes us to contemplate the brevity and radiance of our own sojourn on earth and challenges us to rearrange our thinking in crucial and unexpected ways. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780307387967
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97803073879671.0
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Book Description Vintage, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0307387968
Book Description Vintage, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 0307387968