Powell’s Books to host rehearsal for film based on I THINK YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL

I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel
David Shields and Caleb Powell

Knopf, September 2014

A debate, nearly to the death, about life and art.

Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he’s a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art.

Shields and Powell spent four days together in a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mine; they rewatched My Dinner with André, Sideways, and The Trip, relaxed in a hot tub, and talked about everything they could think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question (life and/or art?): genocide, marriage, sex, Toni Morrison, sports, porn, the death penalty, baldness, evil, James Wood, happiness, sports-talk radio, George Bush, drugs, death, facial scars, betrayal, alcohol, Rupert Murdoch, Judaism, bad book-titles.

Actor-writer-director James Franco will be directing a film of the book later this month with Shields and Powell striving mightily to play themselves. Both the book and the film will be released in September 2014. On Thursday, December 12, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. at Powell’s Books, Shields and Powell will be rehearsing some of the scenes from the book.

Boston Globe: “Early on in his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, critic, essayist, and reformed novelist David Shields compares himself to George W. Bush…”

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2013:

Anyone who gives a hoot about the status and the future of storytelling needs this rangy, brainy, bad-ass book–a book that celebrates books, dissects books, and pays homage to the creators of our stories. Packed with riffs and rants–some hilarious, some brilliant, some flat-out zany–this is caffeinated, mad-genius stuff: sly, manic, thoughtful, and witty. (Shields’ three-page self-comparison to George W. Bush–“he likes to watch football and eat pretzels”–is especially fun.) At times, I felt like I was on a madcap tour of an eccentric professor’s private basement library, never knowing what was around the next corner. My review copy is littered with underlines and exclamation points and, yes, a handful of WTFs. Part critical analysis, part essay, and part memoir, How Literature Saved My Life offers its liveliest passages when Shields reveals Shields. A stutterer, he developed an early kinship with the written word, since the spoken word came to him with “dehumanizing” difficulty. Which makes one of his final lines all the more potent: “Language is all we have to connect us, and it doesn’t, not quite.”–Neal Thompson