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Enough About You Hardcover – April 23, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743225783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743225786
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,803,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

More of a literary adventure than an actual autobiography, David Shields's Enough About You: Adventures in Autobiography presents a collection of loosely organized, self-reflective essays, ranging from such disparate topics as the author's past, dreams, and heroes to his thoughts on basketball, Jewish culture, and Bill Murray. Uniting the book is Shields's examination of autobiography, his interest in the way we identify ourselves, and the most effective ways of investigating and communicating our identity.

Shields writes with convincing intelligence and fluidity on the book's more academic topics, such as the effectiveness of Nabokov's structure by memory association in Speak, Memory and Renata Adler's use of collage in Speedboat. Yet when he emulates such works with random glimpses into his own past and character, he doesn't provide enough personal detail to make effective use of these techniques. He's a bit too preoccupied with theory to offer a satisfying self-portrait. Ultimately, Shields seems distracted by the need to cover all his critical bases and make a postmodern statement, consequently distracting and distancing the reader from establishing much of a connection with the author. He writes in the book's prologue that he "wants to cut to the absolute bone" of "his own damned, doomed character," yet admits in the epilogue to having falsified much of its personal information. It's unfortunate that he doesn't let his academic guard down more often, because what personal insight he does provide (accurate or otherwise) is very entertaining. He recognizes the absurd self-absorption inherent in memoir, and that goes a long way in a book about the subject. An interesting if flawed experiment, Enough About You should nonetheless appeal to memoir enthusiasts looking for perceptive and humorous views on our own perpetual self-fascination. --Ross Doll

From Publishers Weekly

Although its subtitle promises a bold and exotic journey through introspection, this somewhat rambling, definitely disorganized work could more appropriately be called "Musings in Partial Autobiography." Novelist and nonfiction writer Shields (Heroes; Black Planet; etc.) delivers a combination of invention and confession, telling his life story in snippets and half-remembered moments. He travels from one subject to another, skimming the surface of his life like an indifferent water bug. Some essays are steeped in standard autobiographical technique, as when he gains insight from memories of being a jerk at his high school newspaper's office, while others use a kind of free association, allowing Shields to discuss his favorite books without revealing too much of his feelings. In the introduction, he states that he wants to explore his own doomed character; he wants to cut to the absolute bone: "Everything else seems like so much gimmickry." But despite his sharp, excellent writing, there isn't a glimpse of bone here; there's barely even blood drawn. Shields succeeds in examining autobiography itself as a genre, sizing it up with an almost scholarly perspective, but in terms of his own life, he presents few details and then implies that even those may be fabricated or poorly remembered. Those who have come to appreciate Shields's fine writing will enjoy his thoughts on Bill Murray, Nabokov and Adam Sandler, but those seeking true adventure in autobiography should travel elsewhere.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

David Shields is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications); The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead; Black Planet (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award); How Literature Saved My Life, and Remote, winner of the PEN/Revson Award. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Rarely have I read something that so eloquently explores how writers become who they are.
Joel Drucker
Enough About You is following in the footsteps of Remote, or actually, leading its own way in a mix of essay, fiction, autobiography.
A Reader
Halfway through this book I lost myself somewhere in the story: I found that I was learning something there by heart.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "potts_christopher" on June 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For those of us readers who feel absolutely barraged by the literary world's seemingly never-ending thunderstorm of memoirs, "how to write" books, and autobiographies, David Shields has an answer. His self-proclaimed "attack on autobiography" succeeds in its poignancy, its quirky (often scary) humor, and its not-too-subtle critique on its own genre. Shields gives us his take on subjects ranging from criticism to Bill Murray to his own semi-fictional comings of age. He masterfully links 22 seemingly unrelated chapters in a manner which, upon finishing the book, the reader feels that he or she has been taken on a roller-coaster-esque ride through not just the author's life and culture, but through our lives and culture as well.
I read this book in an afternoon, in a single sitting. It's a book that, while maintaining its goal of introspection into something universally human, is still very fun to read. I felt the pangs of the narrator's past mistakes, laughed along with Shields when he quotes Mr. Murray, and got justifiably frustrated when taken along for a ride on the other side of a book review. Shields takes us into himself in an honest, open way and, in doing this, somehow opens some of our own doors; by telling us his dirty secrets, he reminds us of our own and lets us remember that we're all as goofy, confused, and [messed] as the next guy
Just as the cover is a menagerie of snapshots of the author, the insides of Enough About You contains 22 refreshing snapshots of one man's life that is somehow both unique and universal at the same time. Highly, highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One of the central myths that males like to promulgate about themselves is that they're characteristically outer-directed,
concerned with tasks rather than selves, and highly unself-conscious about their purposes and goals in the world. ("I was just looking fast ball," says the slugger; "I just got a good look at the hoop," insists Robert Horry.) In ENOUGH ABOUT YOU, as in his previous fiction and works of creative non-fiction, David Shields is having none of this masculine protest rhetoric. The joke of his latest book's title is that enough has been said about others, and that he's going to take the occasion of this small volume to talk very self-consciously about the world as it's viewed through his eyes. Accordingly, the dust jacket of ENOUGH ABOUT YOU is plastered with photographs of David Shields from age two to the present, and the essays in the book orbit obsessively around the issue of what it means to be David Shields. So who cares what it means to be David Shields?
Shields is writing squarely in the tradition of Jewish-American literature, a central tenet of which was articulated by Saul Bellow: man is capable, Moses Herzog affirmed, of taking on his "bone-breaking burden of selfhood and self-development," and need not surrender to communal imperatives his "poor, squawking, niggardly individuality." Shields's personal "burden of selfhood" has included a lifelong struggle with a stutter that for years of his childhood threatened to utterly silence him, the long, slow death of his mother from cancer, erotic pleasures and humiliating rejections, the trials of becoming a writer and of garnering positive and devastatingly negative book reviews, and, of course, being Jewish.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joel Drucker on May 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Take the introspection of Montaigne, add healthy dollops of personalized social commentary in the vein of Henry Adams, Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, and leaven with sprinklings of humor ala Woody Allen, and you begin to understand the genius of David Shields' Enough About You.
You might ask if this is some kind of joke. But as Robert Frost once noted, "I am never more serious than when I am joking." But Shields' engaging humor -- whether goofing on his own ambitions as writer, as athlete, as child of Jewish liberals -- is at heart an engaging masks for his profoundly deep ambition and serious desire to show us something about both himself and ourselves.
The book is fun to read -- not just as a series of pieces, but as a flowing, lucid narrative examining Shields' various obsessions. Rarely have I read something that so eloquently explores how writers become who they are. I'm not talking about the craft of writing (though Shields is extremely polished), but about the intoxicating scent of desire that enters the soul of an aspiring writer: the goal of making an impact on the world. Through his tales of basketball and school, of his perceptions of both private friends and public icons (the Bill Murray piece is keenly insightful, not just into Murray, but to everything from comedy to acting and why this matters), Shields brings to life George Bernard Shaw's notion that "the man who writes about hismelf and his time is the only man who he writes about all people and all time." It's a delightful book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joanna L Storey on May 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this book, 'Enough About You', David Shields combines an original and delightful personal narrative with insightful passages about the difficulties of autobiography. The collage form of the book repeatedly reminded me of the act of memory itself, in which over time life experiences blur into one flowing series of snapshots about the person you used to be, the people you've loved, the experiences you've had and the brief encounters with wisdom that have shaped who you are. Toward the end of the book Shields interrupts himself (not a rare move) and explores the difficulty of telling the story of yourself while still being very much a part of that self. "'Don't you finally want to get outside or yourself?" He questions, "Isn't that finally what this has to be about, getting beyond the blahblahblah or your endless-' Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Or rather, yes and no. I want to get past myself, of course I do, but the only way I know how to do this is to ride along on my own nerve endings; the only way out is deeper in."(p.133)
Isn't that the truth for all of us who, in the search for our identities, feel like we're drowning in a vague sea of self-centered feelings and perceptions? Shields does not expect us to ignore the tendency of emotion, nostalgia and self-absorption to overwhelm our memories, instead he urges us to dive straight into these parts (and all other parts) of our pasts in search of the moments which truly represent 'you'.

"Enough About You" was a unique treasure for me because it was my first page turning, where's he going next, I can't put it down, experience with a work of non-fiction. I attribute this to the exhilarating energy and rapid tempo of Shields' writing.
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