For the American ice hockey defenseman, see David Shields (ice hockey).
|Born||(1956-07-22) July 22, 1956 (age 64)|
|Education||BA (English Literature), MFA (Fiction)|
|Alma mater||Brown University, University of Iowa|
|Genre||Book-length essay, Documentary film|
David Shields (born July 22, 1956) is an American writer and filmmaker who uses collage to destabilize genre.
He is the author of twenty-two books, including Reality Hunger and The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead and the director of Lynch: A History.
A Guggenheim Fellow, twice an NEA Fellow, a PEN Revson Award winner, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and the PEN USA Award, and a senior contributing editor of Conjunctions, Shields is a visiting professor in the Warren Wilson College Low-Residency MFA Program and in Vermont College of Fine Arts’s Low-Residency MFA Program.
Since 2010, he has been the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington.
Shields was born in Los Angeles in 1956 to a lower-middle-class Jewish family.
He has an older sister, a half-brother, and a half-sister.
Both of Shields’s parents were journalists.
His mother, the West Coast correspondent for the Nation for many years, was a political activist; his father worked as a speechwriter for progressive politicians.
In 1962, the family moved to San Francisco, where Shields’s parents were deeply involved in the local anti-war and civil rights community, frequently opening up their home to those in need of short- or long-term shelter.
In 1980, he received a Master of Fine Arts, with Honors in Fiction, from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Shields’s debut novel, Heroes, about a Midwestern sportswriter’s fascination with a college basketball player, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1984.
In 1989, Knopf published Shields’s second novel, Dead Languages, a semi-autobiographical novel about a boy growing up with a severe stutter.
Dead Languages is a work of fiction, but it incorporates significantly larger shards of reality than Shields’s first book, marking the initial phase of Shields’s transition toward nonfiction, which would ultimately lead him to help usher in initiate the literary collage and ‘anti-novel’ forms for which he is most well-known.
In 1992, his novel-in-stories, Handbook for Drowning, was published by Knopf.
In 1996, Shields became a faculty member in the Warren Wilson College low-residency MFA Program for Writers, a position he still holds.
That same year, his fourth book, Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, Shields’s first work of literary collage, was published by Knopf.
Between 1997 and 2009, Shields published five books: Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season (Random House, 1999) a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and PEN USA award; Baseball Is Just Baseball: The Understated Ichiro (TNI books, 2001), which achieved bestseller status in Japan; Enough About You: Notes toward the New Autobiography (Simon & Schuster, 2002); Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine (Simon & Schuster, 2004); and The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), a New York Times bestseller.
In 2001, Shields became a visiting instructor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and has taught there ever since.
In 2010, Shields’s tenth book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, was published by Knopf.
In Vanity Fair, Elissa Schappell called Reality Hunger an “arousing call to arms for all artists to reject the laws governing appropriation, obliterate the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, and give rise to a new modern form for a new century.” Reality Hunger was recently named one of the decade’s 100 most important books by LitHub.
The following year, Norton published The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death, an anthology Shields co-edited with Brad Morrow.
In 2012, New Harvest published Jeff, One Lonely Guy, a collage co-written by Shields, Jeff Ragsdale, and Michael Logan.
Later that year, an anthology co-edited by Shields and Matthew Vollmer, Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, was published by Norton.
In 2013, Knopf published How Literature Saved My Life, a blend of confessional criticism and cultural autobiography.
Salinger was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
In 2015, Hawthorne Books published Life Is Short — Art is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity, which Shields co-edited with Elizabeth Cooperman.
In 2015, Shields also published That Thing You Do With Your Mouth: The Sexual Autobiography of Samantha Matthews as told to David Shields (McSweeney’s); I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, co-written with Caleb Powell; and War Is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict (powerHouse) a deconstruction of that newspaper’s front-page war photography.
Other People: Takes & Mistakes was published by Knopf in 2017.
That same year, First Pond Entertainment released the film adaptation of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, written by Shields and Powell, starring Shields and Powell and James Franco, and directed by Franco.
The trio debate the value of life versus art; art wins, barely.
The film is available now on Amazon Prime, iTunes/Apple TV, Vudu, Vimeo, Kanopy, and Google Play.
In 2018, Shields’s book Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention was published by Thought Catalog Books.
In 2019, The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power was published by Mad Creek Books.
Later the same year, Shields’s debut documentary, Lynch: A History, an ode to Marshawn Lynch’s use of silence, echo, and mimicry as key tools of resistance, premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival.
The film, which Shields wrote, produced, and directed, was named one of the five best films at the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam and has won numerous awards, including the Golden SunBreak Award for Best Documentary and the End of Cinema Award for Best Nonfiction Film.
The film is now available on First Look Media, Sundance TV, AMC, Amazon Prime, and iTunes/ AppleTV.
Shields’s early fiction was noted for its use of neorealism.
In 1989, writing in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Lance Olsen included Shields as part of the “Next Generation of Fiction.” With the 1996 publication of Remote, which A.O. described in ScottNewsday as “one of the definitive texts of the 1990s—a trim, elegant nonfiction answer to Infinite Jest,” Shields began to build his is reputation as a pioneer of collage.
Reality Hunger was highly controversial when it was published in 2010.
In The New York Times Book Review, Luc Sante wrote that the book “urgently and succinctly addresses matters that have been in the air, have relentlessly gathered momentum, and have just been waiting for someone to link them together… [Shields's] book probably heralds what will be the dominant modes in years and decades to come.” Reality Hunger has, in fact, proven extremely influential on 21 century nonfiction, “autofiction,” and documentary film.
In the New Yorker, James Wood called the book “highly problematic” in its “unexamined promotion of what [Shields] insists on calling ‘reality’ over narrative,” although Wood did acknowledge that Shields’s “arguments about the tediousness and terminality of current fictional convention are well-taken.”
In the decade since Reality Hunger, Shields has published a dozen books, many of which are collaborative and nearly all of which attempt to embody the ars poetica theorized in Reality Hunger.
The first of these collaborations, Salinger, a 2013 oral biography that subtly defied the conventions of nonfiction through its piecing together of an abundance of primary material, was praised by John Walsh in the Sunday Times (London): “A stupendous work .
I predict with the utmost confidence that, after this, the world will not need another Salinger biography.” Shields continued to transform and remix genre in War Is Beautiful, which Heather Baysa in the Village Voice called a “disturbingly graphic book [that] follows the New York Times's war reporting for more than a decade, exposing the institution's tendency to glamorize armed combat to the point of manipulation."
I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, a collaboration between Shields and Caleb Powell, was praised for its erasure of the boundary between mask and self, a frequent theme in Shields’s work.
Life is not personal.
Life is evidence.
It’s fodder for argument.
To put the ‘I’ to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.”
Lynch: A History, whose montage approach builds off of the collage style of Shields’s books, marks the next major shift in Shields’s career: documentary film.
The film’s relentless rhythm overwhelms and overpowers you.
Random acts of terror, across time and space, reveal themselves as a pattern.
It’s a gradient of American carnage.”
- The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power, Mad Creek Books, 2019
- Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention, Thought Catalog, 2018
- Other People: Takes & Mistakes, Knopf, 2017
- War is Beautiful: The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict, powerHouse Books, 2015
- That Thing You Do With Your Mouth: The Sexual Autobiography of Samantha Matthews, as told to David Shields, McSweeney's, 2015
- Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity, co-edited with Elizabeth Cooperman, Hawthorne Books, 2015
- I Think You're Totally Wrong: A Quarrel, co-written with Caleb Powell, Knopf, 2015
- Salinger, co-written with Shane Salerno, Simon & Schuster, 2013
- How Literature Saved My Life, Knopf, 2013
- Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, "Found" Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, co-edited with Matthew Vollmer, W.W. Norton, 2012
- Jeff: One Lonely Guy, co-written with Jeff Ragsdale and Michael Logan, New Harvest, 2012
- The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death, co-edited with Bradford Morrow, W.W. Norton, 2011
- Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, Knopf, 2010
- The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, Knopf, 2008
- Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine, Simon & Schuster, 2004
- Enough About You: Notes Toward the New Autobiography, Simon & Schuster, 2002
- Baseball Is Just Baseball" The Understated Ichiro, TNI Books, 2001
- Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season, Crown, 1999
- Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, Knopf, 1996
- Handbook for Drowning: A Novel in Stories, Knopf 1992
- Dead Languages: A Novel, Knopf 1989
- Heroes: A Novel, Simon & Schuster, 1984
|2019||Lynch: A History||writer, director, producer|
|2017||I Think You're Totally Wrong: A Quarrel||co-writer, co-star|
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David Shields.