Is David Shields’ new book The Last Interview indeed an “autobiography in question form, with the reader working to supply answers based on the questions that follow,” as Bret Easton Ellis’ blurb attests?
Is it “Brilliant,” as Bret Easton Ellis’ blurb attests?
(Is this the same David Shields who authored Reality Hunger?)
Does, as Chris Kraus’ blurb states, Shields remix and reimagine “2,000 of the most annoying questions he’s been asked during his forty-year writing life”?
Is it really an “operatic tragic sojourn across American cultural life” (Kraus)?
Does The Very Last Interview confirm “Shields as the most dangerously important American writer since William S. Burroughs,” as Kenneth Goldsmith claims in his blurb?
(Is this the same Kenneth Goldsmith who was called out seven years ago for a publicly reading Michael Brown’s autopsy under the guise of “conceptual poetry”?)
Is it actually “very funny,” as Sheila Heti’s blurb contends?
Should I flip it over and actually dig in?
Is that a Richard Diebenkorn painting adorning the cover?
Are there actually five more blurbs once one opens the book?
Does Shields organize this “remix: of questions he’s (supposedly) been asked into chapters with titles like “Process,” “Truth,” “Art,” “Failure,” “Criticism,” and “Suicide”?
Does Shields open each chapter with epigraphs?
Does he attribute the authors of the epigraphs?
Is there an epigraph from Nietzsche?
Why doesn’t he attribute any of the interviewers at any point in The Very Last Interview?
Does David Shields believe he is a genius?
Does he believe that his audience will find delight or joy or even a momentary reprieve from reading The Very Last Interview?
When Jonathan Lethem (whose blurb makes the inside but not the back cover) claims he “blasted through it in one night,” is it possible that by “night” he means a thin hour or two?
Is the book skinnier than its 150 pages might suggest?
Are there any bits of the book that are, as Heti blurbed, “Very, very funny”?
How about this trio?
“When we are not sure, we are alive” — are you sure this is something that Graham Green said?
Can you prove it?
Do you know what “JSTOR” stands for?
Does this little blip skate closer to mildly amusing as opposed to very very funny?
But is there a general undertone of contempt that radiates in Shields’ curation of questions?
What about these?
Do you share my contempt for Greenpoint hipsters who look and act cool but whose work is about as challenging as a Toblerone bar?
Did you every study with Gordon Lish?
What did he like about your bracelet-cum-watch?
(What would we get if we removed the hyphens from the phrase bracelet-cum-watch?)
Is it possible that David Shields overestimates how interesting he is?
Does he really want us to empathize at points, to provide answers for questions, such as the ones below?
What’s the matter with you?
No, seriously. What is your underlying impasse?
Why can’t you feel?
What’s buried beneath that seeming numbness?
Is The Last Interview pretentious, solipsistic, shallow, bathetic, and also very readable?
Is The Last Interview available in paperback from NYRB next month?
Are we done?