David Shields clearly set out less to write a book than to be a book, and to point out the work’s hypocrisy, self-indulgence, or irritating tics might only serve to endow it with the totally transparent humanity he longs for. There’s finally little defense against the pleasantly lulling roll call of favorite films and books, never mind that few them are given anything more than a surface appraisal (if that) and a pull-quote. The entirety of his gloss on Schopenhauer’s “The world is my idea” goes, “We don’t see the world. We make it up.” Well, thanks anyway. But here’s where the pride Shields takes in his solipsism gets a little creepy. After all, you can try making up the world, but the world is under no obligation to extend you the same courtesy. Perhaps the reason so many writers stick to fiction, despite being “less immediate and raw” than blogs, is that they are less willing to take their inner weather report to mean that it’s snowing everywhere.
-“The Lives of Others” by JW McCormack