Penguin £8.99 (219pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Reality Hunger, By David Shields
Friday 04 March 2011
Divided into 26 categories ("memory", "blur", "collage), this book is an assemblage of 617 verbal shards about the novel, originality and communication in a digitised world. Here's a taste: "Increasingly the novel goes hand in hand with a straitjacketing of the material's expressive potential."
Questioning traditional notions of form, genre and authorship, some of the fragments seem familiar. Who originally said, "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector"?
The answer is Hemingway, as we discover from a list of citations included at the insistence of lawyers. Shields says that the reader should rip it out. He's right. The list produces a kind of commonplace book or even a quiz. Still interesting but not what Shields intended.
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