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Other People

Takes & Mistakes

David Shields


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/21/2017)


Other People is something of a revelation: seventy-plus essays that form neither a miscellany nor a memoir but an intellectually thrilling and emotionally wrenching investigation of otherness.
Can one person know another person? How do we live through other people? Is it possible to fill the gap between people? If not, what function does art serve? Whether he is writing about sexual desire or information sickness, George W. Bush or Kurt Cobain, women's eyeglasses or Greek tragedy, Howard Cosell or Bill Murray, the comedy of high school journalism or the agony of first love, Shields sustains a piercing focus on the multiplicity of perspectives, the irreducible log jam of human information, and the possibilities and impossibilities for human connection.

Praise For Other People: Takes & Mistakes

“A triumphantly humane book . . . Shields is our elusive, humorous ironist, something like a 21st century Socrates. . . . He’s a master stylist—and has been for a long time, on the evidence of these pieces from throughout his career. The collection can stand as a textbook for contemporary creative nonfiction: erudite, soulful and self-deprecating like John Jeremiah Sullivan; freewheeling and insatiably curious like Geoff Dyer; hilarious and precise like Elif Batuman; and always fresh, clean, vigorous and clear . . . The book’s collective tone . . . is strikingly gentle, amiable and above all unpretentious. . . . All good writers make us feel less alone. But Shields makes us feel better. He takes some of the bad of our everyday life and our culture and the whole inescapable mess of being human and sends it back to us as good.” —Clancy Martin, The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant and joyously readable . . . one of America’s most accomplished and best writers. . . . In his certainty of getting other people wrong, David Shields is vastly more profound, entertaining, memorable and trustworthy than armies of writers whose presumptions of professional certitude and golden methodology are fatuous and mistaken to alarming degrees. Nothing David Shields writes should be ignored. Sometimes, as here, he is to be read as intently as any writer around.” —Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News

"From its Philip Roth epigraph to its final page, this book is tied together by what Shields calls his 'favorite idea'—that 'language is all we have to connect us, and it doesn’t, not quite.'" —Bill Morris, The Millions

“Wise, surprising, and relentless . . . At once an essay collection, a memoir and a critical dissection of pop culture and human relationships.” —Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist (starred review)

“[Other People] showcases thirty-five years of endless curiosity . . . A smart, funny collection of observations, about himself and others . . . Engaging, daring, original.” —Jeff Baker, The Seattle Times

“A serious book on manhood in contemporary America . . .  As brainy as Sebald or Kundera.” —John Domini, Los Angeles Review of Books

“If anyone asks me, ‘Where should I start with this David Shields?’ I would enthusiastically recommend Other People: Takes & Mistakes.” —Ivan Schneider, Seattle Review of Books

“Shields offers portraits of ‘other people,’ including family members, lovers, athletes, and celebrities. However, in these essays, Shields also frequently interrogates his notion of self, focusing a lens on his identity in relation to others. Readers . . . will enjoy this work by an established figure in the field.” —Library Journal

“The essays that comprise Other People are prime examples of how a singular writer can connect to a multitude of people via the written word.” —Andrew Bomback, Ohio Edit

“Rangy . . . Carefully observed . . . Glittering.” —Edward Hardy, Brown Alumni Magazine

“Sharply observed . . . The persistent bite-size introspections help the reader appreciate how well Shields can look at others.” —Publishers Weekly

Other People: Takes & Mistakes aims to do nothing less than change how people think about the act of reading; in my case, it has already succeeded, beyond all measure.” —Annie Dillard
“One would guess from a title like Other People that it would be about how hellish humans are, but it surprisingly turns out to be the opposite: a book about expressing love. There are whole passages that seem lifted from previous Shields books, dunked in molten earth, and allowed to erupt again; the way they come out here, polished, glittering, makes me think this was the ideal context for them all along, not a book straitjacketed into a subject/narrative but a book promiscuously preoccupied.” —Christopher Frizzelle, The Stranger
“David Shields takes the stories we tell about ourselves and others and turns them into a story about all of us. Whether he’s thinking about lying, pain, romance, celebrity, tattoos, trash talk, or why we love the movies, Shields knows that under every answer is another question.” —Sallie Tisdale
Other People: Takes & Mistakes has it all: the confusions of the body; the capers of the mind; a vast democratic cast of deeply American characters; and of course the improvised self, sifting and searching, on a quest to make sense of it all—when it can. This artful collage (tender, witty, warm, intelligent, available, vulnerable) is David Shields at his brilliant best. A beautiful book.” —Charles D’Ambrosio
“David Shields has nerve and can write about everything.Padgett Powell

“David Shields is the artful trickster of nonfiction. He never stops playing with forms and genres, shifting from memoir to criticism, pastiche to portraiture. Athletes, actors, family; an improbable gallery of alter egos; the big questions and the quotidian moments: they’re all here in high-resolution prose. Cultural energies and contradictions flow through Shields. Likewise, in his own exuberant words, ‘all manner of mad human needs.’” —Margo Jefferson

Vintage, 9780804169851, 400pp.

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

About the Author

David Shields is the author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times best seller), and Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, The Yale Review, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and The Believer. His work has been translated into twenty languages.