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  • Published: 17 May 2022
  • ISBN: 9781681376424
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 164
  • RRP: $27.99
Categories:

The Very Last Interview



In the spirit of his highly acclaimed and influential book Reality Hunger, David Shields has composed a mordantly funny, relentlessly self-questioning self-portrait based on questions that interviewers have asked him over forty years.

David Shields decided to gather every interview he’s ever given, going back nearly forty years. If it was on the radio or TV or a podcast, he transcribed it. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but he knew he wasn’t interested in any of his own answers. The questions interested him—approximately 2,700, which he condensed and collated to form twenty-two chapters focused on such subjects as Process, Childhood, Failure, Capitalism, Suicide, and Comedy. Then, according to Shields, “the real work began: rewriting and editing and remixing the questions and finding a through-line.”

The result is a lacerating self-demolition in which the author—in this case, a late-middle-aged white man—is strangely, thrillingly absent. As Chuck Klosterman says, “The Very Last Interview is David Shields doing what he has done dazzlingly for the past twenty-five years: interrogating his own intellectual experience by changing the meaning of what seems both obviously straightforward and obviously wrong.”

Shields’s new book is a sequel of sorts to his seminal Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, which Literary Hub recently named one of the most important books of the last decade. According to Kenneth Goldsmith, “Just when you think Shields couldn’t rethink and reinvent literature any further, he does it again. The Very Last Interview confirms Shields as the most dangerously important American writer since Burroughs.”

  • Published: 17 May 2022
  • ISBN: 9781681376424
  • Imprint: NY Review Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 164
  • RRP: $27.99
Categories:

About the author

David Shields

David Shields's most recent book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead, (Knopf, 2008), was a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of eight previous books, including Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney's, and Utne Reader; he's written reviews for the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Shields has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two NEA fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is a professor in the English department at the University of Washington. Since 1996 he has also been a member of the faculty in Warren Wilson College's low-residency MFA Program for Writers, in Asheville, North Carolina. His work has been translated into ten languages.

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Praise for The Very Last Interview

“A delightful and utterly Shields-ian work. . . [The Very Last Interview is] a hilarious takedown of the interview process, of his own public persona, and of the journalists themselves, blessedly anonymous, who asked some of the most outrageously mean, out-there, self-important, stupid, and simply impossible questions imaginable. . . Totally deadpan and irresistibly hilarious.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review "It’s full of rambling ruminations and surrealistic fluff, but the onslaught of questions does offer insight into the art of interviewing—in some instances, the interviewer is obviously more interested in their own perspective, while in others it’s clear the questioner has thought deeply about their subject. This falls squarely between the absurd and the clever." —Publishers Weekly, starred review “An autobiography in question form, with the reader working to supply the answers based on the questions that follow. Brilliant.” —Bret Easton Ellis “Remixing and reimagining 2,000 of the most annoying questions he’s been asked during his 40-year writing life, David Shields’s The Very Last Interview is an often hilarious, operatically tragic sojourn across American cultural life. What do we expect of our writers, of intellectual history, of fame, of celebrity? All the answers are in the questions. Shields turns inside out whatever glamour remains attached to an artistic life in this book that’s at once charming and damning.” —Chris Kraus   “The moment I started reading this book, the hair went up on my neck. I blasted through it in a night, thrilled by the energy. Shields doesn’t wear out the form; it keeps doing remarkable tricks on the reader’s brain right to the finish. Stunning.” —Jonathan Lethem   “Very, very funny.” —Sheila Heti   “A sort of existential mixtape, and at the heart of it all is how others see us, what they imagine of us. ‘Do you think anyone can understand anyone else, and if not, what are any of us doing other than walking around trapped for in eternity in our own space suits?’ The Very Last Interview attempts to answer this question and at the same time complicates it in an utterly thrilling way. I love this book.” —Nick Flynn   “David Shields, the wild card in contemporary nonfiction, always challenges the presumptions of genre. His terrific new book, The Very Last Interview, is alternately hilarious, sad, and for any author, excruciatingly recognizable. By submitting to a self-inquisition, Shields demonstrates how much of our self-image is determined or undermined by the outside world, how much the voice of that doppelgänger feeds our doubt and inevitable sense of failure. Ironically, the book itself is a triumph, of honesty and craft.” —Phillip Lopate   “Not for the first time when confronted with a book by David Shields, I approached with skepticism, was initially irritated, then charmed, and ended up being thoroughly captivated.” —Geoff Dyer   “Who would have thought that dozens upon dozens of questions, all addressed to the same author, could be so hilarious? Or that the space between those questions could feel so alive with a tantalizing and ambiguous energy? What did the man answer? Shields is extraordinarily resourceful in finding new ways to explore the enigmas of identity and experience (while mercilessly satirizing the idiotic formulas of contemporary book talk).” —Tim Parks   “Shields has done something seriously stunning here. Beautifully, compactly hysterical. What for me is so powerful, amid the irony and comic bite and radiant constraint and brainy brightness in every sentence, are the questions behind every

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