Anti-Novel Manifesto Reads Like 'Hokey' Fiction

David Shields' hypocritical book is dependent on plot
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2010 4:18 PM CST
Reality Hunger by David Shields.   (Knopf Doubleday)

(Newser) – The subtitle of David Shields’ Reality Hunger—an anti-novel, anti-plot screed that celebrates reality in all its forms—is A Manifesto, which automatically makes it less about “reality” and more about creating a stir, writes Laura Miller. Even as he rails against the outdated novel, Shields is creating a character and a plot: him against the world. He “could have simply announced that he has lost all interest in reading or writing fiction.”

But no. He dramatized his anger. “Shields used to write and read fiction, but he's lost interest in it," writes Miller for Salon. "The semi-documentary, semi-autobiographical lyric essay is what he wishes to pursue.” Sadly, his colleagues "don't take it seriously." The anti-novel writer is understandably miffed, so he…writes a manifesto, “with drama and conflict baked right into the format!” It’s hypocrisy. "When you write a manifesto, you are, after all, telling a story, and casting yourself as its hero.”

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