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How Literature Saved My Life (Signed First Edition)

David Shields

706 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0307961524 / ISBN 13: 9780307961525
Published by Knopf, 2013
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Dan Pope Books
West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.

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About this Item

New York: [2013]. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. New/New. A pristine unread copy, very fine in all respects. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. Shipped in sturdy box. Smoke-free shop. Purchased new and opened only for author to sign. 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # 0710-32

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Bibliographic Details

Title: How Literature Saved My Life (Signed First ...

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: 2013

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition....

About this title


In this wonderfully intelligent, stunningly honest, and 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 A 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, but when they come to feel unlifelike and archaic, he revels in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and consciousness and self-consciousness--perfect, since so much of what ails him is acute self-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.


Amazon Guest Review of “How Literature Saved My Life,” by David Shields

By Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the best-selling memoir Wild. Strayed writes the “Dear Sugar” column on Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, Self, the Missouri Review, Brain, Child, The Rumpus, the Sun and elsewhere. The winner of a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, her essays and stories have been published in The Best American Essays, The Best New American Voices, and other anthologies.

Great books are born of grand passions. The best literature is made when authors refuse to rest easy, but instead dig into their obsessions in order to express not just what’s true, but what’s truer still. This greatness is apparent on every page of David Shields’s How Literature Saved My Life, a culturally searching declaration of the power and limitations of literature that’s also a highly idiosyncratic, deeply personal soul search by one super smart man who consumes and considers books as if his life depends on it.

Part memoir, part manifesto, How Literature Saved My Life is as wide-ranging as it is intimate, and much of its power lies in the ambitiousness of Shields’s reach. It’s a book that defies definition. My category for it is simply a strange book that I love. It’s a serenade wrapped inside a cross-examination; an intellectual book that reads like a detective novel. In its pages, one reads about subjects as diverse as Tiger Woods, the theory that someday tiny robots will roam inside our bodies to reverse the damage caused by aging, Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and the private journals of Shields’s unsuspecting college girlfriend.

This is a long way of saying that How Literature Saved My Life is a book with balls. It doesn’t ask for permission to be what it is: an original, opinionated, gentle-hearted, astonishingly intelligent collage of the ideas, reflections, memories, and experiences of a writer so avidly determined to understand what literature means that the reader must know too.

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