The Me Machine

David Shields wants to capture the lumps in our throats.
photo: David Shields
David Shields wants to capture the lumps in our throats.

There's something lumpy in the batter that makes Enough About You feel wrong: clunky paragraphs couched within brilliant ones, textual repetitions and strained examples, a book cover illustrated with dozens of miniature photos of the author spanning childhood to middle age. Shields seems to pursue this wrongness in the hope that it will knock his autopilot out of whack long enough to reveal something hidden and startling. If we can hold our impatience at bay, the technique works, provoking the reader to rethink the clumps of chronological data that pass for biography, so inadequate to convey the slippery slopes of a human life. Somehow David Shields' wrongs do add up to a right.

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