Reality Hunger — a rally cry for a new literary genre

| January 9, 2012

Blogging about what I’m reading for the Learning at the Library Blog (which you’re reading right now) has become so habitually familiar to me that when the magazine Poets & Writers posted a call for reviews of favorite books of 2011, I excitedly dashed off a description of my current favorite, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields.  The book truly is provocative and fantastic, and it’s at the Butler Library if you want to check it out:  PN781 .S55 2010

Poets & Writers published my book pick and so, in the interest of posting a meta “what-I’m-reading” entry, here is the piece:


Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

“I stumbled across Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010) by David Shields in a quirky bookstore called Auntie’s in Spokane. In 2011 my reading habits tended toward nonfiction and genre bending works, and in Reality Hunger Shields presents a case for the melding of genres (fiction and nonfiction), questions who owns art, and discusses both through our rapidly changing digital landscape. What I found most striking is that he addresses these issues through a series of statement-fragments, some of which are lifted quotes from other writers, without the use of quotation marks. Reality Hunger should be required reading for anyone interested in genre blending and trying to make sense of what we mean by ‘the truth.’ When I read Shields’s book I felt as though he had transcribed my own cacophony of thoughts onto the page. And yet, seeing these words in type has done more to revolutionize my thoughts about my own writing than anything I’ve read in a long time.”

—Anne Hays from New York, New York