I have just finished reading Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity (1996), David Shields “collection” of essays, anecdotes, bumper sticker compilations, advertisements and photos that examine how celebrity culture manifests itself in our daily lives. I cannot begin to explain this unruly book-- I just read it, enjoyed it, and am now just appropriating it to my own needs, which I believe, Shields advocates in his more recent well-known work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (2010).
Here's a few quotes about writers worth sharing from the chapter entitled “Always:”
“American writers residing in and writing about the tri-state area are always understood to be adumbrating a universal spiritual condition, whereas writers residing in the other forty-seven states are always congratulated for being gifted regionalists. Writers always say, “Show Don't Tell.” Writers always say they don't read their own reviews. Forced by social circumstance to praise novels they haven't read always say they are `wonderfully evocative.'... Writers who complain most vociferously about the way their work has been pigeonholed because of a particular personal attribute—their race, say, or sexual orientation, or even their physical beauty—are always the writers whose work (the reception to whose work) has most directly benefited from this attribute...Writers who are most eloquent on the subject of the death of the novel are always writers who were once mildly popular and no longer read.” (p. 67-68; italics mine)
The irony about Remote is that I found this book just trolling though the aisles at Books Again here in Decatur and picked it up on a whim. The book is autographed no less, so I ask myself does that change my relationship with the book, with Shields, or the guy known as John, who Shields originally inscribed “best wishes” on the title page fifteen years ago?
(Also in the spirit of appropriation, this week's artwork comes from his website, which I also borrowed because I thought it was great use of a bald head.)