You'll be hearing a lot about David Shields' supposedly iconoclastic Reality Hunger over the next few weeks (it publishes at the end of the month). It will be touted as the "one book of literary criticism" (or some such) that you absolutely must read and is, in the words of its publisher, an "audacious stance on issues that are being fought over now and will be fought over far into the future." Actually, it's a dog's breakfast that deserves a really robust response -- happily, Mr Mitchelmore is already on the case:

Reading David Shields’ new book – but in what way is it a book? – is a frustrating experience. As demonstrated by the previous sentence, on almost every page of Reality Hunger the reader is interrupted by responses, doubts and questions. "Every artistic movement from the beginning of time" it begins, "is an attempt to figure out a way to smuggle more of what the artist thinks is reality into the work of art." Why, one asks, half-aware of the question because one is trying to get into the book, does he use "artistic movement" rather than "artist"? The answer is soon clear: he is seeking to galvanise a new artistic movement by expressing his own concern with the relation of art to reality. It has an impact on the form and content of the book, so much so that it fails to become a book yet, as a consequence, ends up enacting part of Shields’ manifesto. However, what remains betrays it (more...)

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