Now I Know Which Dude Is David Shields


I hadn’t really caught on to the whole David Shields thing because I always get him a little confused in my mind with Chris Hedges, who had to quit his job at the Times to be himself, and who I admire. This is only because they both have these bland guy names. (And lots of S’s and H’s and things.) So imagine my surprise when I read a little bit of what David Shields’ project is and what he has to say and it’s all pretty off-putting. Today Shields publishes a defense of his new book, Reality Hunger, which is a manifesto of some sort: he’s responding to “numerous bloggers” who think he’s “the anti-Christ,” a controversy that didn’t reach the Internet that I am on. Apparently the gripe is 1. he hates fiction (fine! Welcome to the club!) and 2. that big chunks of his books are quotations from other writers, and his point was that he “never wanted the reader to not quite able to tell who was talking-was it me or Sonny Rollins or Emerson or Nietzsche or Frank Rich or, weirdly, none of us or all of us at the same time?” Well, okay, great, fine with me, as I already read me some Kathy Acker twenty-five years ago. He sums up the objections to his work as from people who “don’t genuflect at the twin altars of the novel and intellectual property.” This is around the time I started to really differentiate between Chris Hedges and David Shields, because one of them is super-irritating.