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Current Status:
In Season
David Shields
Pop Culture, Essays, Memoir

We gave it a C

David Shields dissects growing up in a media-soaked culture in 54 miniatures interleaved with his own childhood photos, and the solipsism gets tedious fast. When he gripes about the way that high school yearbook pictures (his in particular) inherently lie, or probes the careers of such marginal stars as Bob Balaban or ”Stuttering John” Melendez, Shields makes good, if hardly original, points about the distance between life and celebrity. When he makes unannotated lists of bumper stickers, however, it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve wandered into a postmodern parlor game: Bricolage Pursuit. As for the reminiscences of schoolyard pranks and beloved writing teachers, Shields’ tone of smugly detached irony keeps the reader at arm’s length, and it’s rather hard to give a whoop-de-dang-do if the author doesn’t. Remote has picked up a lot of hip cachet, but really, it’s proof that intellectuals’ home movies can be as boring as everybody else’s. C