Cover art for The Trouble with Men

The Trouble with Men

1 rating

Summary

David Shields’s The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power is an immersion into the perils, limits, and possibilities of human intimacy. All at once a love letter to his wife, a nervy reckoning with his own fallibility, a meditation on the impact of porn on American culture, and an attempt to understand marriage (one marriage, the idea of marriage, all marriages), The Trouble with Men is exquisitely balanced between the personal and the anthropological, nakedness and restraint.  While unashamedly intellectual, it’s also irresistibly accessible and extremely moving. Over five increasingly intimate chapters, Shields probes the contours of his own psyche and marriage, marshalling a chorus of other voices that leaven, deepen, and universalize his experience; his goal is nothing less than a deconstruction of eros and conventional masculinity. Masterfully woven throughout is an unmistakable and surprisingly tender cri de coeur to his wife. The risk and vulnerability on display are in the service of radical candor, acerbic wit, real emotion, and profound insight - exactly what we’ve come to expect from Shields, who, in an open invitation to the listener, leaves everything transparent.

©2019 David Shields (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

Length: 3 hrs and 40 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention

Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention

1 rating

Summary

"Nobody Hates Trump More than Trump: An Intervention is perhaps the only genuinely original thing you have read yet about Donald Trump. It can be read in a variety of ways: as a psychological investigation of Trump, as a philosophical meditation on the relationship between language and power, as a satirical compilation of the 'collected wit and wisdom of Donald Trump', and above all as a dagger into the rhetoric of American political discourse - a dissection of the politesse that gave rise to and sustains Trump. The book’s central thesis is that we have met the enemy and he is us. Who else but David Shields would make such an argument, let alone pull it off with such intelligence, brio, and wit, not to mention leaked off-air transcripts from Fox News?" (Brian Fawcett, Dooney’s Cafe)

“The best book, so far, on the political and cultural implications of Trump’s presidency. Shields has the widest range of curiosity of any American writer I’m aware of, and he almost never wastes your time. He nails what’s off-kilter and crazy about Donald Trump and the political psychosis he represents at least a hundred times, and in dozens of insightful ways. Shields is good enough, in this book, to earn the designation of being the writer most likely to be picked up and murdered should either right - or left - wing fundamentalists take power in the United States. This is a designation that hasn’t been conferred on an American writer since Philip K. Dick. What I’m saying is that Shields is that good. He is one of a very small group of true 21st century writers worthy of the tag, and I salute him as a master.” (Jeff Simon, Buffalo News)

©2018 David Shields (P)2019 Andi Arndt / Lyric Audiobooks LLC

Narrator: Paul Heitsch
Length: 4 hrs and 46 mins
Available on Audible
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That Thing You Do with Your Mouth

1 rating

Summary

In That Thing You Do With Your Mouth, actress and voiceover artist Samantha Matthews offers - in the form of an extended monologue, prompted and arranged by New York Times best-selling author (and Matthews' cousin once removed) David Shields - a vivid investigation of her startling sexual history. From her abuse at the hands of a family member to her present-day life in Barcelona, where she briefly moonlighted as a dubber of Italian pornography into English, Matthews reveals herself to be a darkly funny, deeply contemporary woman with a keen awareness of how her body has been routinely hijacked and how she has been "formatted" by her early trauma. Her story is a study of her own uneasy relationships with female desire, her tormentors, and her lovers - with whom she seeks out both the infliction and receipt of harm. This book is an attempt, sometimes self-thwarted, to break down barriers: sexual and emotional for Matthews and literary for Shields. For Matthews and Shields, the only response to the unspeakable is to speak, to do that thing you do with your mouth, as directly and honestly as possible. Their provocative performance refuses neat resolution or emotional pornography; it will have listeners, from literary critics to Jezebel commentators, raving, raging, celebrating, and talking.

©2015 David Shields and Samantha Matthews (P)2015 Recorded Books

Narrator: Mia Barron
Length: 2 hrs and 30 mins
Available on Audible
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War Is Beautiful

Summary

Best-selling author David Shields analyzed over a decade’s worth of front-page war photographs from The New York Times and came to a shocking conclusion: The photo-editing process of the “paper of record”, by way of pretty, heroic, and lavishly aesthetic image selection, pulls the wool over the eyes of its readers; Shields forces us to face not only the the media's complicity in dubious and catastrophic military campaigns but our own as well.  This powerful media mouthpiece, the mighty Times, far from being a check on governmental power, is in reality a massive amplifier for its dark forces by virtue of the way it aestheticizes warfare. Anyone baffled by the willful American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan can’t help but see in this book how eagerly and invariably the Times led the way in making the case for these wars through the manipulation of its visuals. Shields forces the listener to weigh the consequences of our own passivity in the face of these images’ opiatic numbing. 

©2015 David Shields (P)2019 David Shields

Narrator: Dave Elvin
Length: 29 mins
Available on Audible
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The Inevitable

Summary

What is death and how does it touch upon life? Twenty writers look for answers. Birth is not inevitable. Life certainly isn't. The sole inevitability of existence, the only sure consequence of being alive, is death. In these eloquent and surprising essays, 20 writers face this fact. Among them Geoff Dyer, who describes the ghost bikes memorializing those who die in biking accidents; Jonathan Safran Foer, proposing a new way of punctuating dialogue in the face of a family history of heart attacks and decimation by the Holocaust; Mark Doty, whose reflections on the art-porn movie Bijou lead to a meditation on the intersection of sex and death epitomized by the AIDS epidemic; and Joyce Carol Oates, who writes about the loss of her husband and faces her own mortality. Other contributors include Annie Dillard, Diane Ackerman, Peter Straub, and Brenda Hillman.

©2011 David Shields (P)2020 David Shields

Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
Available on Audible
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Salinger

Summary

Based on eight years of exhaustive research and exclusive interviews with more than 200 people - and published in coordination with the international theatrical release of a major documentary film from the Weinstein Company - Salinger is a global cultural event: the definitive biography of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the 20th century. For more than 50 years, the ever elusive author of The Catcher in the Rye has been the subject of a relentless stream of newspaper and magazine articles as well as several biographies. Yet all of these attempts have been hampered by a fundamental lack of access and by the persistent recycling of inaccurate information. Salinger remains, astonishingly, an enigma. The complex and contradictory human being behind the myth has never been revealed. No longer. In the eight years since Salinger was begun, and especially in the three years since Salinger’s death, the authors interviewed on five continents more than 200 people, many of whom had previously refused to go on the record about their relationship with Salinger. This oral biography offers direct eyewitness accounts from Salinger’s World War II brothers-in-arms, his family members, his close friends, his lovers, his classmates, his neighbors, his editors, his publishers, his New Yorker colleagues, and people with whom he had relationships that were secret even to his own family. Shields and Salerno illuminate most brightly the last 56 years of Salinger’s life: a period that, until now, had remained completely dark to biographers. Provided unprecedented access to diaries, letters, legal records, and secret documents, listeners will feel they have, for the first time, gotten beyond Salinger’s meticulously built-up wall. The result is the definitive portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century.

©2013 David Shields and Shane Salerno (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

Available on Audible
Cover art for Remote

Remote

Summary

In this truly one-of-a-kind book, the author/narrator - a representative, in extremis, of contemporary American obsession with beauty, celebrity, transmitted image - finds himself suspended, fascinated, in the remoteness of our wall-to-wall mediascape. It is a remoteness that both perplexes and enthralls him. Through dazzling sleight of hand in which the public becomes private and the private becomes public, the entire book - clicking from confession to family-album photograph to family chronicle, to sexual fantasy to pseudo-scholarly footnote, to reportage to personal essay, to stand-up comedy to cultural criticism, to literary criticism to film criticism, to prose-poem to litany, to outtake - becomes both an anatomy of American culture and a searing self-portrait. David Shields reads his own life - reads our life - as if it were an allegory about remoteness and finds persuasive, hilarious, and heartbreaking evidence wherever he goes.

©2003 David Shields (P)2021 David Shields

Narrator: Dave Elvin
Length: 4 hrs and 24 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Reality Hunger

Reality Hunger

Summary

Reality Hunger is a manifesto for a burgeoning group of interrelated but unconnected artists who, living in an unbearably artificial world, are breaking ever larger chunks of 'reality' into their work. The questions Shields explores - the bending of form and genre, the lure and blur of the real - play out constantly around us, and Reality Hunger is a radical reframing of how we might think about this 'truthiness'. Reality Hunger questions every assumption we ever made about art, the novel, journalism, poetry, film, TV, rap, stand-up, graffiti, sampling, plagiarism, writing, and reading. Drawing on myriad stances, David Shields seeks to tear up the old culture in search of something new and more authentic.

©2010 David Shields (P)2011 Penguin Books Ltd

Narrator: Peter Marinker
Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins
Available on Audible
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Other People

Summary

An intellectually thrilling and emotionally wrenching investigation of otherness: the need for one person to understand another person completely, the impossibility of any such absolute knowing, and the erotics of this separation. Can one person know another person? How do we live through other people? Is it possible to fill the gap between people? If not, can art fill that gap? Grappling with these questions, David Shields gives us a book that is something of a revelation: 70-plus essays, written over the last 35 years, reconceived and recombined to form neither a miscellany nor a memoir but a sustained meditation on otherness. The book is divided into five sections: Men, Women, Athletes, Performers, Alter Egos. Whether he is writing about sexual desire or information sickness, George W. Bush or Kurt Cobain, women's eyeglasses or Greek tragedy, Howard Cosell or Bill Murray, the comedy of high school journalism or the agony of first love, Shields' sustained, piercing focus is on the multiplicity of perspectives informing any situation, on the irreducible log jam of human information, and on the possibilities, and impossibilities, for human connection.

©2017 David Shields (P)2020 David Shields

Narrator: John Dellaporta
Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Life Is Short - Art Is Shorter

Life Is Short - Art Is Shorter

Summary

Life Is Short - Art Is Shorter is not just the first anthology gathering both mini-essays and short-short stories. Listeners, writers, and teachers will get an anthology; a course’s worth of writing exercises; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity in an increasingly digital post-religious age; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence. 1. We are mortal beings. 2. There is no God. 3. We live in a digital culture. 4. Art is related to the body and to culture. 5. Art should reflect these things. 6. Brevity rules. The book’s 40 contributors include Donald Barthelme, Kate Chopin, Lydia Davis, Annie Dillard, Jonathan Safran Foer, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, Jamaica Kincaid, Wayne Koestenbaum, Anne Lamott, Daphne Merkin, Rick Moody, Dinty W. Moore, George Orwell, Jayne Anne Phillips, George Saunders, Lauren Slater, James Tate, and Paul Theroux.

©2015 David Shields (P)2021 David Shields

Available on Audible
Cover art for How Literature Saved My Life

How Literature Saved My Life

Summary

In this wonderfully intelligent, stunningly honest, and painfully funny book, acclaimed writer David Shields uses himself as a representative for all readers and writers who seek to find salvation in literature. Blending confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography, Shields explores the power of literature (from Blaise Pascal's Penses to Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Renata Adler's Speedboat to Proust's A Remembrance of Things Past) to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Shields evokes his deeply divided personality (his "ridiculous" ambivalence), his character flaws, his woes, his serious despairs. Books are his life, but when they come to feel unlifelike and archaic, he revels in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and consciousness and self-consciousness - perfect, since so much of what ails him is acute self-consciousness. And he shares with us a final irony: he wants "literature to assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn't lie about this - which is what makes it essential.

©2013 David Sheilds (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Length: 4 hrs and 59 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Fakes

Fakes

Summary

Contemporary short stories enacting giddy, witty revenge on the documents that define and dominate our lives. In our bureaucratized culture, we’re inundated by documents: itineraries, instruction manuals, permit forms, primers, letters of complaint, end-of-year reports, accidentally forwarded email, traffic updates, ad infinitum.  David Shields and Matthew Vollmer, both writers and professors, have gathered 40 short fictions that they’ve found to be seriously hilarious and irresistibly teachable (in both writing and literature courses): counterfeit texts that capture the barely suppressed frustration and yearning that percolate just below the surface of most official documents. The innovative stories collected in Fakes - including ones by Ron Carlson (a personal ad), Amy Hempel (a complaint to the parking department), Rick Moody (Works Cited), and Lydia Davis (a letter to a funeral parlor) - trace the increasingly blurry line between fact and fiction and exemplify a crucial form for the 21st century.

©2012 David Shields (P)2020 David Shields

Available on Audible
Cover art for Dead Languages

Dead Languages

Summary

In the face of many well-meaning, but often misguided attempts to cure him of his stutter, young Jeremy Zorn develops both an astonishing prowess as an athlete and a large vocabulary, and comes to understand the power of language.

©2011 David Shields (P)2020 David Shields

Narrator: Mike Maloney
Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
Available on Audible