Melissa Maerz
February 15, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

How Literature Saved My Life

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
David Shields
publisher
Knopf
genre
Memoir

We gave it an B-

Everything about this book’s title, How Literature Saved My Life, is wrong. Having once admitted that he ”can’t read a book unless it has miniature numbered sections,” Shields focuses less on literature than on Spider-Man comics, Built to Spill songs, and a number of classic movies. Some riffs are more illuminating than others — he claims that the Twitter feed S— My Dad Says is ”about Vietnam,” then fails to explain — but he never reveals how his life was saved. He does discuss his life in depth, though, believing that all criticism is molded by memoir. (His best story finds him sneaking into a girlfriend’s dorm to read her journal.) As a manifesto on how life shapes art, it doesn’t really work. But as a guide to what to add to your Netflix, Spotify, and Goodreads queues? It’s awesome. B-

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