Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Last night at Johns Hopkins University I got to hear David Shields talk about books, literature and literary forms. I most enjoyed listening to the words the writer had carefully wrought about his new book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, which is comprised of ordered unattributed quotations both borrowed and his own (and which I hadn't read). On the Metro ride down, I'd said to my friend, a fiction writer and playwright, that I like essay and poetry. So when I arrived to hear about this book, I was overexcited by the connection I felt to Shields' discussion, which in a poor, simplisitic recap, was a plea to recapture the lost art of the lyric essay and apply more immediacy to the act of writing--dispelling conventional form in a quest to get to truth. (Poetry, anyone?) He seeks to create a new genre encompassing both the borrowed and the new, which may not sit well with those writers for whom Plagiarism is the first writerly deadly sin. (But even in memoir...doesn't memory fib a bit? Emphasizing selective details that may not have mattered much to the original real-life run? Choosing certain events over others...?) Knowing I was in the presence of A Very Important Writer, I purchased a copy, had it signed and chatted briefly with him about making an essay culled from the process of writing a journalistic story gone amok. I felt a new inspiration and validation. Doesn't happen often, but when it does ... boom! Click here for the March 12 NY Times review and here for Cathy Alter's take in Atlantic.com.
Next up: A long-overdue recap of Brunch among Bras at Sylene. Yes, and that is how my reality writes itself.