David Shields

I’m animated by work that stretches me emotionally and intellectually. I remain provoked by the transgressive property of a work. I want a work that shocks me awake, not lulls me to sleep, that talks about what you’re not supposed to talk about. That’s my whole modus operandi. Without that, I don’t get to the page. Everything else is dull.


New york times bestselling author

Finalist, national book critics cirlce award




Maybe he’s simply ahead of the rest of us, mapping out the literary future of the next generation.
— Susan H. Greenberg, Newsweek
With Reality Hunger, David Shields offered us a manifesto, which unlike most manifestos, actually changed the world.
— Nick Flynn
Beguiling and moving. There is always the temptation, in writing about sex, to sound superior, arch, immune to its power. Shields writes from a genuine place of curiosity and confusion. He is ridiculous and brave, he never conflates sincerity with genuine candor, and he poses the kinds of questions that only ever bring trouble (and are the only kind worth reading about).
— Parul Sehgal, on The Trouble With Men in the New York Times

David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty-two books, most recently The Trouble With Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power (21st Century Esssays, 2019) which Parul Sehgal, in the New York Times, called beguiling and moving,” and Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump: An Intervention (Thought Catalog, 2018), which Kirkus called “a compelling book offering something to offend nearly anyone.” Other books include the culture-altering Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), 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 (Knopf, 2008), New York Times bestseller; Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season (Crown, 1999), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (Knopf, 2017), NYTBR Editors’ Choice. Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Salon, Slate, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into two dozen languages.

Interviewed by Guernica about The Trouble with Men, Shields said, “These men who commit acts of sexual misconduct tend to be unbelievably weak, and they mask or disguise or hide from their weakness by fantasizing about a weakened feminine and/or a reified masculinity. I think the key to a better discourse is for men to acknowledge, first, how lost and weak and broken they are. Once they have acknowledged that, and reckoned with that within themselves, it seems to me impossible or unlikely that they would commit the acts many such men are accused of. The key, from a man’s point of view, is for men to first understand their brokenness, their woundedness, their lostness, their sadness; that seems to me to accomplish much, at least potentially. “

Shields is the writer, producer, and director of Lynch: A History (Cargo Films; available on iTunes on July 30), which explores the silence that nonconformist NFL star Marshawn Lynch deploys as a form of resistance. Culling more than 700 video clips and placing them in dramatic, rapid, and radical juxtaposition, the film is a powerful political parable about the American media-sports complex and its deep complicity with racial oppression. In the New Yorker, Hua Hsu says, “The film’s relentless rhythm overwhelms and overpowers you, as random actos of terror, across time and space, reveal themselves as a pattern. It’s a gradient of American carnage.” 

The film adaptation of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel—co-written by Shields and Caleb Powell and co-starring Shields, Powell, and James Franco (who directed the movie)—was  released by First Pond Entertainment in 2017 and is available on Amazon.

A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and a senior contributing editor of Conjunctions, Shields frequently teaches at Warren Wilson College’s low-residency MFA program, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Vermont Center for Fine Arts. The Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington, he specializes in teaching courses in literary nonfiction/creative nonfiction, autobiography, memoir, personal essay, the curated diary, literary collage, literary collaboration, oral history, dialogic books, one-act plays, remix-repurposing-“appropriation,” found documents, “fraudulent” artifacts, documentary film, the essay film, screenwriting, the photo essay, elegy, aphorism,brevity, the prose-poem, the short-short, flash fiction, “autofiction,” and other kinds of boundary-jumping work. 



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