Cover image for I think you're totally wrong : a quarrel
I think you're totally wrong : a quarrel
Shields, David, 1956-
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
Physical Description:
261 pages ; 22 cm
"An impassioned, funny, probing, fiercely inconclusive, nearly-to-the-death debate, about life and art-cocktails included. Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he's a stay-at-home dad to three young girls). David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art. At antipodes since first meeting twenty-five years ago, they headed to a cabin in the Cascade Mountains and threw down. The focus? Life vs. Art. Over the next four days they played chess, shot hoops, hiked, relaxed in a hot tub, watched My Dinner with Andre, Sideways, The Trip, and talked about everything they could think of-genocide, marriage, sex, Toni Morrison, sports, porn, the death penalty, baldness, evil, James Wood, happiness, sports radio, George Bush, drugs, death, betrayal, alcohol, Rupert Murdoch, Judaism, bad book titles-in the name of exploring their central question. While confounding, as much as possible, the divisions between "reality" and "fiction" and between "life" and "art, " their dialogue remains dazzlingly provocative and entertaining from start to finish"--
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PS3569.H4834 I3 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3569.H4834 I3 2015 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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An impassioned, funny, probing, fiercely inconclusive, nearly-to-the-death debate about life and art--beers included.

Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he's a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he overcommitted to art (he has five books coming out in the next year and a half). Shields and Powell spend four days together at a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mi≠ they rewatch My Dinner with Andr#65533; and The Trip, relax in a hot tub, and talk about everything they can think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question (life and/or art?): marriage, family, sports, sex, happiness, drugs, death, betrayal--and, of course, writers and writing.

The relationship--the balance of power--between Shields and Powell is in constant flux, as two egos try to undermine each other, two personalities overlap and collapse. This book seeks to deconstruct the Q&A format, which has roots as deep as Plato and Socrates and as wide as Laurel and Hardy, Beckett's Didi and Gogo, and Car Talk 's Magliozzi brothers. I Think You're Totally Wrong also seeks to confound, as much as possible, the divisions between "reality" and "fiction," between "life" and "art." There are no teachers or students here, no interviewers or interviewees, no masters in the universe--only a chasm of uncertainty, in a dialogue that remains dazzlingly provocative and entertaining from start to finish.

James Franco's adaptation of I Think You're Totally Wrong into a film, with Shields and Powell striving mightily to play themselves and Franco in a supporting role, will be released later this year.

Author Notes

David Shields was born in Los Angeles, California on July 22, 1956. He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from Brown University in 1978 and an MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1980. He writes both fiction and nonfiction books. His first novel, Heroes, was published in 1984. His other works include Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, How Literature Saved My Life, and Other People: Takes & Mistakes. Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity won the PEN/Revson Award and Dead Languages won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. He is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This print equivalent of the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre is an often contentious and always intelligent dialogue between prolific author Shields and his Seattle friend, Powell, a writer, former student of Shields', and stay-at-home husband. Prepared but spontaneous, the two talk about what smart men often talk about (when they talk at all). They talk about sports, they talk about movies and books and authors, they talk about their families and earlier experiences, they talk about race (a concern for both) and politics, they talk about sex, and they talk a great deal about life and work (art/writing) as contrasting options. Shields, who has written on a variety of subjects, has devoted his focus, by design, to his work. Powell, though a writer, has focused more on his family. Shields at one point says, You don't solve questions first, then turn to art to embody the answers. The art is where you investigate the questions. They approach their topics with clarity and wit, they poke and prod, they agree and disagree. There is no connective tissue. It's all dialogue two interesting guys talking, not always interestingly but interestingly enough to keep us listening.--Levine, Mark Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Critic and writer Shields (Reality Hunger) and his former student Powell, once an aspiring artist, now a stay-at-home dad, spent four days together in 2011, conversing on a wide range of issues related to the artistic life. At the center of their quarrel is the push-and-pull between which is the best path: devotion to art or life experience? Shields concedes that Powell has traveled more, had more adventures, and raised more children, but Shields's devotion to writing paid off in the form of published books, prestigious teaching positions, and engagement with the literary world. As a book-in-dialogue, the two freely discuss and dissect their debts to My Dinner with Andre and David Lipsky's book-length interview with David Foster Wallace, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (2010). Shields and Powell keep waiting for "the flip," or the moment when their roles in the interview will reverse, or one will convince the other he is right, but each is so full of complexity and contradictions that it's difficult to imagine if such a flip is possible. Like any good belletristic conversation, the authors discuss dozens of literary figures, books, and movies, from novelists David Markson and Renata Adler to the movies Sideways and The Crying Game. And, like a true teacher, Shields is always pressing for the larger issue, questioning why art matters or how can suffering be alleviated. A worthy and important addition to the genre, this casual conversation pushes readers to rethink fundamental questions of life and art. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.