…were you to tell a clerk you were interested in reading some morally serious contemporary writing, you might be introduced to the books of New York Times bestselling author David Shields.
Sophisticated, ambitious, and widely praised as an exemplar of our age’s ethical-literary sensibility, Shields offers a polemically narcissistic, aggressively atheistic vision of how and why literature should Âmatter to us, premised upon the willfully inward, selfish turn that follows from rejecting God and religion. If ÂAugustine counseled us to read literature as a means of increasing our love of our neighbors and ultimately our love of God, Shields counsels us to read literature to increase our love of ourselves, because there’s no one else that matters.
As he declares in his most influential work, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, “So: no more masters, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”