I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel

Knopf, 2015, Coauthor with Caleb Powell


Day 1

Caleb Powell: (entering the chaos of the house; the girls swarm at the entrance) That’s Kaya, Ava, Gia.

David Shields:  They’re adorable.

Caleb:  My wife, Terry.

David:  Hi, everybody.

Caleb:  (entering living room) My parents, Dave and Beatrice Powell; David Shields. My parents came to help out with the kids tomorrow.

Father: Good to meet you, David.

Caleb:  My parents met at Cooper Union.

David:  The free-tuition school.

Caleb:  All the paintings in our house are my mother’s. David’s daughter is a freshman at a college in Rhode Island.

David:  She goes to RISD.

Mother: Risby?

David:  The Rhode Island School of Design. RISD.

Mother: Never heard of Risby.

Father: Your sister Marilyn went there.

Mother:  Where, Risby?

Father: Ris-Dee.

David:  It’s the Rhode Island School of Design, but they call it RIS-D for short.

Mother: Risby?

Father: Trice!

Caleb:  (to David) You wanna beer?

David:  I’m good; thanks.


Terry: You’re leaving him with your parents?

Caleb:  Why not?

Terry: You’re having a beer?

Caleb:  One for the road.

Terry: You excited?

Caleb:  I’m ready.

Terry: What if he makes a move on you?

Caleb:  Ha ha.


The Movie

Trailer for the film “I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel,” James Franco’s adaptation of David Shields and Caleb Powell’s book of the same name.  View here >>



  • One of Amazon’s Ten Best Nonfiction Books of January 2015
  • Powell’s Bookstore Choice for January 2015



“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the ‘I’ to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.”
Leslie Jamison, The Atlantic

“Outrageously entertaining . . . a warm, funny, and charming book that questions not only what it means to live for art, but what it means to live.”
Saul Asterlitz, Boston Globe

“Hugely entertaining.”
John Murawski, Raleigh News & Observer

“A daring descent into the ‘chasm of uncertainty.”
Matt Seidel, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Start reading I Think You’re Totally Wrong, then try to stop; I dare you. It screws with your head in a way you can’t shake off, and it’s moving—weirdly moving. It ruined my work day. I loved it. Shields is opening up new ways to be a writer.”
Walter Kirn

“Provocative . . . entertaining . . . diverting.”
Kurt Rabin, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

“The two longtime pals disagree on marriage, religion, sex, politics, happiness, film—and everything else—with passion, insight, and panache.”
Lisa Shea, Elle

“A fascinating reality-show romp of a new book.”
Davis Schneiderman, Huffington Post
“Impassioned, funny, probing.”

“Intelligent and erudite.”
Kevin O’Kelly, Christian Science Monitor
“By turns funny, philosophically engaging, and emotionally revealing.”
Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A worthy and important addition to the genre [book-in-dialogue], this casual conversation pushes readers to rethink fundamental questions about life and art.”
Publishers Weekly
“A stimulating intellectual interaction with lots of heart.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Shields and Powell approach their topics with clarity and wit, they poke and prod, they agree and disagree . . . an often contentious and always intelligent dialogue.”
Mark Levine, Booklist