Structure: 618 short sections grouped into 26 chapters.
Subject: our hunger for the real as opposed to the invented.
Shields makes some strong points and shares some controversial ideas, most of which, in the real world, would require a cite. But Shields does not believe that reality–words, music–belongs to anyone. Random House forced him to credit the sections–there’s a list in the back of the book. But he begs you to cut that section out. Or at the very least not to read it.
Your uncertainty about whose words you’ve just read is not a bug but a feature.
That’s pretty cool. Of course, then there’s
- the novel is dead #327
But perhaps he’s just reading the wrong novels. Still, it’s true, as Martha Cooley wrote in “Novel Anxiety,” in The Writer’s Chronicle:
In content and form, too many novels published today fail to startle, unnerve, or exhilarate us, or to speak in fresh ways to the actual complexities of our experience.
The sense of novel-fatigue out there seems palpable to me…
Shields is FOR a blurring of the distinction between fiction and nonfiction #3. He thinks memoir is as far from real life as fiction is, and that selection is as important a process as imagination #104.
Reality Hunger is repetitive and would have been more powerful if shorter. The stronger ideas would have shined rather than been buried. Still, I’m glad I read it.
I want to explore my own damn, doomed character. I want to cut to the absolute bone. #517
~cross-posted at Contrary