Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

June 8th, 2010 at 9:24 am

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields

Quick. Everyone run out and read this book. Right now.

But good luck. Because I was at a Books, Inc. recently (“The West’s Oldest Independent Bookstore”) and they did not have it.

Which is bullshit.

The one on Haight Street no less. (Books, Inc.: may your souls be forever tormented by the violent retribution of the peyote-clenching two-thumbed fist).

Why are bookstores going out of business?
Because they suck. They are not selling anything anyone wants to buy.

I don’t care how good your customer service is if you’re not selling anything I want.

“The external focus of Books Inc. is now and always has been customer service. The internal objective is to train the next generation of booksellers.”

You might as well train the next generation of elevator operators.

So here I am, I’ve already read the damned book, for free, from the public library, and actually liked it so much that I wanted to buy it, but couldn’t!
Can you believe that? I wanted to part with my hard, hard, hard-earned money for a bunch of ink and paper. A compendium of mere thoughts. Made up shit. Cash in exchange for thoughts from a stranger? Ridiculous, right?
But I couldn’t.
Yet the building of socialism had it. For free. Weeks earlier.
No amount of customer service is going to change or fix that.
FUCK customer service. I loath the phrase.

But seriously, go read Reality Hunger. I don’t think I have ever, ever finished a book and immediately turned back to the first page to begin reading again.
Until this book.

But you may not be as concerned with its contents as much as I so I will prepare you.

It is a manifesto.
Cool word, right?
I know. I think so too.
You want to say it slow.
Manifesto.
Make it seem mysterious and intimidating.

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto is a work concerned with the modern relevance of books, stories, and the written word. It is a stirring call to arms, a refreshing and inspiring evaluation of contemporary storytelling and myth and the status of novels. It is about books. It is about art. It is about rap. It is about collage and graffiti and lying and stealing and history and reality television and making shit up and the value that all of it has on our culture.

Here’s the rub:

“An artistic movement, albeit an organic and as-yet-unstated one, is forming. What are its key components? A deliberate unartiness: “raw” material, seemingly unprocessed, unfiltered, uncensored, and unprofessional. Randomness, openness to accident and serendipity, spontaneity: artistic risk, emotional urgency and intensity, reader/viewer participation; an overly literal tone, as if a reporter were viewing a strange culture; plasticity of form, pointillism; criticism as autobiography; self-reflexivity, self-ethnography, anthropological autobiography; a blurring (to the point of invisibility) of any distinction between fiction and nonfiction: the lure and blur of the real.”

For me, Reality Hunger read like the best of dreams. In an intellectual way. Not a sexual way.
But then again, I’ve always found intellectualism quite sexy.

Have you seen my head mast? I’m quite sophisticated.

But all joking aside, go read David Shields’ previous book, The Thing About Life is That One Day You’ll Be Dead.

Cause you will. I’ve seen it happen.

And to recoup, aren’t public libraries rad?

Can you keep it simple?
Can you let the snare crack?

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