Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kate Lord Brown
Reviewed by Kate Lord Brown
Summary: A challenging call to arms for art and literature to wake up and engage with the twenty-first century.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
ISBN: 978-0241144992

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'The Novel is Dead' is not really what a novelist wants to read first on picking up a new book – but I persevered with Shields' manifesto and I'm glad I did. This is a thought-provoking wake-up call that any artist, writer or book-lover will enjoy.

Shields argument is provocative – faced with an increasingly artificial world, he sees the art and books that matter as dealing with reality, playing with a sense of 'truthiness'. As the script whizzes along at breakneck speed, exploring the bending of form, genre, reframing how we look at 'reality' in creative work, it often feels like the book is a rollercoaster ride.

This manifesto is not limited to the written word – Shields embraces literature, film, performance art, music – and argues the case for work that pushes and blurs the traditional boundaries of creativity, in lyric essays, prose poems and collage novels.

'Reality Hunger' is no mere polemic – the book itself engages in Shields' exploration of quotation and appropriation. I make a point of reading books from front to back – not 'cheating' – and it wasn't until I spotted one or two famous quotations that I realised the game Shields was playing. Throughout the book, he 'samples' other authors, other ideas. As he says: 'your uncertainty about whose words you've just read is not a bug but a feature'.

My advice is to arm yourself with a red pen as you read this book – every page is packed with thought-provoking insights into the nature of what it is to be alive and a writer in this age. Whether you agree with Shields' pronouncements, (and the quotes that echo his argument), or not, this is an exhilarating ride.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy What is Your Dangerous Idea? by John Brockman.

Buy Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields at Amazon.com.


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