Is the novel dead? Is art theft? Can you copyright reality? These are just some of the questions asked (and answered) in David Shields’ highly controversial manifesto, Reality Hunger, now out in paperback.
Shields’ book is split into 26 lettered sections; each section consisting of a variety of numbered assertions, declarations and opinions. There are 617 of these short and pointed paragraphs – most can be read in isolation but it is far more interesting and rewarding to read them in sequence, gradually building a picture of Shields’ over-arching argument – that the novel is an outmoded, nostalgic art-form that has no place in the modern world. Shields champions a new way of writing that is based wholly on reality.
His movement doesn’t yet have a name, but its purpose is to trounce traditional modes of literature that Shields views as “terribly contrived” and to promote the kind of novels “which bear no trace of being novels.” Contentious, provocative but riveting – Reality Hunger is a must read for anyone involved in the arts.