The Thing About David Shields is He’s Always Writing About Death

the_thing_about_life_is_that_one_day_youll_be_dead.largeDavid Shields’ book, The Thing about Life is that One Day You Will Be Dead, bridges a harmony between intense academic structure and surprising narrative. Biological life cycle, literature, and historical fact act as massive levies shaping the story of a father and son.  Sheild’s personal narrative is composed of ungulating prose, refreshingly feminine in their tenderness.  He has the ability to expose deep personal vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities which are mostly associated with being a man. Shield’s ego is satisfyingly missing.

“It (stuttering) prevents you from ever entirely losing self-consciousness when expressing such traditional and truly important emotions as love, hate, joy, and deep pain. Always first aware not of the naked feeling itself but of the best way to phrase the feeling so as to avoid verbal repetition, you come to think of emotions as belonging to other people, being the world’s happy property and not yours- not really yours expect by way of disingenuous circumlocution.”

Sheilds’ moves the reader through a meditation on the biological life cycle.  He shares a  rich irony in Leonardo da Vinci deathbed sentiments: I offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.  We are given passage into Sheilds’ relationship with his father.  He brings us down into his personal mental loops, rounding the curves of his processing of the life cycle and his reoccurring connection to his father.  The feel of the book is that of an author who is just as eager to find answers as we are.

What will be my father’s last words?
What will be mine?

The thing about reading Sheilds’ work is it is an experience to crave, deliberately.

About detangledprosereview

I am a human rights advocate with a knack for inter-contextually. I am a storyteller, a ceramists, a pan-art lover, a feminist, and a humanist.
This entry was posted in Book Recommendations, Creative Nonfiction, Criticism, Film, Literature, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Thing About David Shields is He’s Always Writing About Death

  1. Anne says:

    This is one of my favorite of Shields’ work. Have you read any of his other books? He has a new one out that I haven’t tried yet.

    • This is the only work I’ve read by Shield’s so far. I’m interested to read more, from what I’ve read it looks like he deals with these same theme of the life cycle in most of his works. Have you found that to be the case?

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