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Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Reality Hunger is Not a Book

    Reality Hunger is not a book. It looks like a book-it has pages, a front and back cover, blurbs, etc.-but it's not. Reality Hunger is a documentary. A calendar for a 582-day year. A book of proverbs. A spiderweb. A mess of paper scraps and glue. It's a guidebook to reading, writing, watching, stealing, remembering, imagining, and dying. You will experience a shutdown of mental faculties while reading this book, a nearly full-scale wipe of beliefs of conventions. The blank screen. Then, the motor starts whirring and things come back into focus, not quite the same as they were before. If you write, read, watch, think, or otherwise exist, you owe to yourself to read this book.

    For my full review, visit

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    Compelling - a dive into personal reality.

    Every page of my copy is dog-eared, underscored, and spattered with asterisks. This book is a must-read for any writer, reader, critical thinker, artist, member of society. Not only does Shields present quotes and synopses from contemporary entertainment venues and literary greats alike, but he does so in such a way that the reader is pulled into his own exploration of social mores and individual development. Much more than compelling - this manifesto is a driving force to cultivate one's own ability to live in "reality" through an honest, visceral study of it. As Shields states in the opening pages of Reality Hunger, "I need say nothing, only exhibit."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:


    Reality Hunger should be required reading for any student of the arts--or anybody wanting their finger on the button of the burgeoning (but also historically omnipresent) phenomenon of artists bringing the rawness of "reality" into human expression. Examining film, poetry, the lyric essay, reality television, or any format where the creator/actor is himself in frame, Shields' "Manifesto" documents both the history and the state of the art--while somehow becoming a part of--the genre of reality literature. Citing everybody from St Augustine to Larry David, it is much more than a work of criticism: it is a treatise on the an artist's highest form of expression: not Cogito Ergo Sum, but Sum Ergo Ars Genero. Reality Hunger can help us tune our ear to "the sound of human voices waking before they drown."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2010

    What's real, what's authentic, does it matter?

    "Reality Hunger: A Manifesto" is a literary collage, made up almost entirely of the words of other writers, historians, musicians, etc. David Shields has collected hundreds of voices and ideas, mixed them up with his own, and assembled them into a comprehensive, entertaining, and funny narrative. A literary DJ mixing together a symphony of written quotes and utterances, Shields manages to present a unified voice/perspective that solidly supports his theme. With fascinating historic details about writing and literature that go back to the beginning and on through to the first memoir and novels, Shields reminds us that no memoir could ever be completely true and many novels are often rooted in reality. The book has shaken up and transformed my thinking about writing and literature--I have not been able to stop thinking about its message and its implications. Reality Hunger has left me wondering what, in literature, is really real and what is imagined--and ultimately why does it even matter? As Shields quotes near the end of the book: "Once upon a time there will be readers who won't care what imaginative writing is called and will read it for its passion, its force of intellect, and its formal originality." With Reality Hunger, that once upon a time is now.

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  • Posted March 3, 2010

    Reality vs. Imagination

    Anais Nin once said, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." What we observe and what we imagine often gets mixed up in the brain. We equate fiction with fancy and nonfiction with facts; realizing fiction is based on real life and nonfiction is largely imagination. Artists of our generation have walked this tightrope: Barbara Kruger. Damien Hirst. Shepard Fairey. The digital revolution challenges our accessibility to information while directing us to it: print and publishing now compete with the Kindle and the iPad. The media bombards us with truthiness and goes to lengths to debunk its own hoaxes: Reality TV. Photo ops. Press conferences for fallen celebrities. David Shields explores all of these ideas, reminding us of our hunger for reality, our insatiable need to be informed and entertained.

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  • Posted March 2, 2010

    David Shields' Anti Fiction Polemic

    I am a fiction writer. The most beautiful word I know is the word invention, and the most beautiful question, in my opinion, is what happens next? So I'm a believer in narrative. I think the human creature needs story; trapped within time and space as we move towards death, we desire a means to escape the inevitable and one way we do that is through narratives about people who are not ourselves. As a fiction writer, I feel a sense of purpose. And yet, given these rather traditional views about fiction, I found David Shields' anti-fiction polemic, Reality Hunger, startling, maddening, and ultimately inspiring. He challenged me on every page. He forced me to know my own beliefs more clearly. The most surprising result is that I came away with an expanded view of the possibilities of fiction. The effect of Shields' ideas and the loose, malleable form he uses so effectively and engagingly was a loosening of my own boundaries and a widening of my aesthetic. I am aware of more options now; I do what I do with renewed excitement.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    A must read!

    He will force artists after him to change how they think about writing. A brilliant collage style history, and current status, of blending art forms especially divisions and genres of fiction and nonfiction writing. By exploring ideas of form, style, originality, memory, plagiarism, art and truth the author took me on a ride that I won't soon forget. You've gotta read it to understand and to believe and I suggest you do - soon before the book is taken off the shelves for some forbidden transgression!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    A great read!

    A great read! Smart and intriguing, an interesting perspective. I would recommend it to anyone!

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    Exhilerating! A Work of Genius!

    Reality Hunger is an exhilarating read. It could possibly be the best book I've ever read. Certainly it's the most influential to my own work. Shields explodes genre-killing everything in his path like some mad stand-up comic pulling out an AK-47 on stage. It's as if Shields tore up the written word-all forms of the written word-then set down a new broader map of discovery, especially self-discovery. What is truth? This book! I recommend it to anybody who breathes.

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    Posted April 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

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