I Think You're Totally Wrong

A Quarrel

By David Shields; Caleb Powell
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385351942, 272pp.)

Publication Date: January 6, 2015

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Description

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 mine; they rewatch My Dinner with André 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.




About the Author

DAVID SHIELDS is the New York Times best-selling author of sixteen books, including The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll be Dead, Reality Hunger, How Literature Saved My Life, and Salinger (cowritten by Shane Salerno). He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. His work has been translated into twenty languages.
 
CALEB POWELL, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, has played bass in a band, worked construction, and spent ten years teaching ESL and studying foreign languages on six continents. Now a stay-at-home father in Seattle, he has published stories and essays in Descant, Post Road, and ZYZZYVA.

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