Since I first met him in the mid 90’s I have been paying attention to David Shields. I had found his fiction compelling and more recently the issues he worried, like hungry hound gnawing on a soup bone, were equally riveting. Among other of his accomplishments are three sports books— Body Politic: The Great American Sports Machine, Black Planet : Facing Race During an NBA Season and “Baseball Is Just Baseball”: The Understated Ichiro, a treatise on the singular Ichiro Suzuki, now a New York Yankee but for many seasons a Seattle Mariner.
Lately, Shields has taken to editing offbeat anthologies, such as The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death. The latest is a brilliant collection, entitled Fakes an Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts edited with Matthew Volmer) (Norton) Here’s the publisher’s synopsis
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….[here are] forty 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 twenty-first century.
Here’s my most recent conversation with David Shields, mostly about his manifesto, Reality Hunger which as it should have raise some literary hackles.It also features his absolutely, dead-wrong appraisal of Adrian Beltre who has just been traded to the Red Sox from Shields’s hometown Mariners)and is now an AllStar with the Texas Rangers). Oh well, in the immortal words of Billy Wilder, “Nobody’s Perfect.”
Currently reading Elsewhere by Richard Russo (Knopf)