Enough About You:
Notes Toward the New
Autobiography

Simon & Schuster, 2002

Excerpt

My first novel was pretty much whole-cloth invention. My second book was an extremely autobiographical growing-up novel. My last book of fiction was a collection of stories, most of which sounded more like essays. My next book was a collage memoir. My most recent book was a diary of a basketball season. You can see, I hope, how I’m going in the wrong direction from how I’m supposed to be going.

And now this: not only an autobiographical book but a book about the impulse to write autobiographically, to turn oneself into one’s subject. A fiction writer (an ex-fiction writer?), knowing full well how invented such representations are, is hopelessly, futilely drawn toward representations of the real. He’s bored by out-and-out fabrication, by himself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters. He wants to explore his own damn, doomed character. He wants to cut to the absolute bone. Everything else seems like so much gimmickry. This book is an attempt to embody these ideas, to make the case that the only real journey is deeper inside and the only serious subject is the mystery of identity—mine, especially, but yours, too, I promise. Here, in other words, is how I give you me. Here, also, is how I give you you. Here, finally, is how you give me me.

 

Reviews

“. . . works because of the writer’s fearless honesty . . . . Shields ditches the outside subject matter to confront his narcissism head-on, a particularly potent them in these self-absorbed times.”—J. Peder Zane, Raleigh News & Observer

“[B]ased on two puckish tenets: ‘What I ultimately believe in is talking about everything until you’re blue in the face’ and ‘If I’m not writing it down, experience doesn’t really register.’ Shields’s apologia for the genre is also a work of literary criticism.” —Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker

“Shields examines the impulse to write about our experiences, turning our lives into works of art. Shields pulls this off with candor and grace to such an extent that we can see ourselves shining through. Recommended for all libraries.” —Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan Library Journal

“Shields makes it easy to identify with his confusions and screw-ups and ambivalences, but his insightfulness and careful consideration are his canny talent. Gladdeningly inclusive, like a hug from Walt Whitman: declarative and fraught and good.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A]n autobiography that complicates the process of autobiographical writing, of talking about oneself directly, at every turn.  If consciousness is irrevocably fragmented, Shields is pretty good at putting the pieces back together.” —Elaine Blair, Newsday

Enough About You attempts to move beyond those self-created mythologies we save for first dates and talk show appearances. David Shields uses gimmicks and sidelong glances to catch the truth with its pants down.” —Joy Press, Village Voice

“[A]mazing . . . intriguing . . . fun . . . breezy . . . pithy. . .lively . . . wily . . . diverting . . . insouciant . . . ” —Booklist