ENOUGH ABOUT YOU: Adventures in Autobiography

David Shields, Author . Simon & Schuster $22 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2578-6

Although its subtitle promises a bold and exotic journey through introspection, this somewhat rambling, definitely disorganized work could more appropriately be called "Musings in Partial Autobiography." Novelist and nonfiction writer Shields (Heroes; Black Planet; etc.) delivers a combination of invention and confession, telling his life story in snippets and half-remembered moments. He travels from one subject to another, skimming the surface of his life like an indifferent water bug. Some essays are steeped in standard autobiographical technique, as when he gains insight from memories of being a jerk at his high school newspaper's office, while others use a kind of free association, allowing Shields to discuss his favorite books without revealing too much of his feelings. In the introduction, he states that he wants to explore his own doomed character; he wants to cut to the absolute bone: "Everything else seems like so much gimmickry." But despite his sharp, excellent writing, there isn't a glimpse of bone here; there's barely even blood drawn. Shields succeeds in examining autobiography itself as a genre, sizing it up with an almost scholarly perspective, but in terms of his own life, he presents few details and then implies that even those may be fabricated or poorly remembered. Those who have come to appreciate Shields's fine writing will enjoy his thoughts on Bill Murray, Nabokov and Adam Sandler, but those seeking true adventure in autobiography should travel elsewhere. Agent, Henry Dunow. (May 2)

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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