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By Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the best-selling memoir Wild. Strayed writes the “Dear Sugar” column on TheRumpus.net. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, Self, the Missouri Review, Brain, Child, The Rumpus, the Sun and elsewhere. The winner of a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, her essays and stories have been published in The Best American Essays, The Best New American Voices, and other anthologies.
Great books are born of grand passions. The best literature is made when authors refuse to rest easy, but instead dig into their obsessions in order to express not just what’s true, but what’s truer still. This greatness is apparent on every page of David Shields’s How Literature Saved My Life, a culturally searching declaration of the power and limitations of literature that’s also a highly idiosyncratic, deeply personal soul search by one super smart man who consumes and considers books as if his life depends on it.
Part memoir, part manifesto, How Literature Saved My Life is as wide-ranging as it is intimate, and much of its power lies in the ambitiousness of Shields’s reach. It’s a book that defies definition. My category for it is simply a strange book that I love. It’s a serenade wrapped inside a cross-examination; an intellectual book that reads like a detective novel. In its pages, one reads about subjects as diverse as Tiger Woods, the theory that someday tiny robots will roam inside our bodies to reverse the damage caused by aging, Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and the private journals of Shields’s unsuspecting college girlfriend.
This is a long way of saying that How Literature Saved My Life is a book with balls. It doesn’t ask for permission to be what it is: an original, opinionated, gentle-hearted, astonishingly intelligent collage of the ideas, reflections, memories, and experiences of a writer so avidly determined to understand what literature means that the reader must know too.
David Shields is a terrific writer and an astute critic.
To him, "intellectual property" is an oxymoron; makes me think if Shields were a software engineer he would have been developing open source all his career.
This is a very personal book, and I have to say, in all his rantings, I did not really sense the beauty of literature, its power, the way I expected to.
Stunning. Absolutely beautiful. I think it is a must read for those who love literature.Published 2 months ago by Dan
Shields says there's no more time in this world for long form fiction. Self reflexive memoir is all that's worth a damn. Concision is paramount . Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joshua Cordasco
David Shield has become one of my favorite authors. For the most part the titles that sustain him (again and again) are not the ones that I return to frequently, but he makes a... Read morePublished 6 months ago by author
I wanted to throw this book out the window but since it is on my Kindle I didnt have the luxury of that option. The author is nauseatingly self absorbed and not even interesting. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Laurie
The best thing about David Shield's book is that it is short. It is pretentious, disconnected and rambling. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kevin Brianton
How Literature Saved My Life follows Shields's Reality Hunger and while the latter seems to have received more positive reviews from Amazon readers, I prefer the new book. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Richard B. Schwartz
Perhaps this will be one of the last books of its kind in the modern world-with all of the other media available, "literature" and its place in the world and in our lives is not... Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. Mullally
This book is not a self - helpy book telling you what books to read to be happier. It is more complicated than that - a mix of memoir and literary criticism. Read morePublished 16 months ago by ireadabookaday
Before picking up this book I was familiar with David Shields, having read "Black Planet," "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You Will Be Dead," and "Reality Hunger" and a few... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Benny Profane