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Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity
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Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In this truly one-of-a-kind book, the author/narrator—a representative, in extremis, of contemporary American obsession with beauty, celebrity, transmitted image—finds himself suspended, fascinated, in the remoteness of our wall-to-wall mediascape. It is a remoteness that both perplexes and enthralls him.
Through dazzling sleight of hand in which the public becomes private
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 23rd 2003 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published 1996)
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Kressel Housman
I read this as a follow-up to Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction, but although it’s also about celebrity worship versus ordinary life, David Shields wrote it, so it’s kind of deconstructionist and you have to connect the dots yourself. It’s one of his earlier books, so it’s not written in the collage of quotes style that he showcased and advocated for in Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, but you can see the origins of the concept here. For example, has one chapter bui ...more
A collection of small fragments and essays centered around examining celebrity culture at the end of the 20th Century. I wasn't crazy about the book at first--I was sure I had all its moves figured out--but the deeper I got into it, the more my mind made connections between pieces and the more subtle and astute the analysis of celebrity culture became. It takes a bit to get there, but once it does, the end of the book starts informing the earlier pieces. The fragmentary structure lets the book m ...more
Abe Brennan
Composed of fifty-five prose snippets, Mr. Shields in ‘Remote’ fashions a literary mosaic that amounts to a brainy yet heartfelt meditation on the nature and implications of our self-absorbed, fame-addled culture. The sections take a variety of forms, from memoir vignettes to critical mini-essays and beyond, but each is infused with intellectual electricity and an often dark sense of humor. Mr. Shields is at his best when he foists his distastefully human quirks and desires on readers, forcing u ...more
Nathan Kibler
I was disappointed enough with this title that I didn't bother reading past the first few chapters. The author talks about visiting a live video taping of a local afternoon television program where Oprah Winfrey was interviewed. He couches everything in the context of being one degree away from fame, which is something I've personally contemplated, but not enough to write a book about. While he seems a personable enough narrator, very little of his prose jumped off the page and made me want to r ...more
M. Sarki
I have yet to see what all the buzz is about David Shields. This is my second attempt at getting to the light. Though the first half of the book was rather interesting and held promise for me, I found the last half a bore and again rather pretentious. The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead was my first attempt at the work of David Shields and I found it grating in many regards. I will attempt another title soon, but I ask myself why in my quest to know not just myself but what drive ...more
I finally finished this one. (...continuing my tour of David Shields) It was very good. He mixed in photos with the text which reminded me of William Vollmann--occasionally awkward but generally adding a nice extra-textual element. I like the vein of auto-biographical exploration in these earlier books by him. It wasn't as much about TV as I would have thought. Recommended!
The author focuses more on his abstract sociological question than he does on his life. Reams of footnotes clog any story. If you are looking for a good memoir this is not the book you want.

I want to rate this book lower than a one star because I really did not like it at all.
Not as good as Shields' "The Thing About Life . . ." It's in a similar style, but it's less focused, cutting, insightful, and funny. "The Thing About Life . . ." covers some of the same ground, as well, and is a much more satisfying read, though certainly gloomier.
Like watching TV and changing the channels where upon you find the same guy dressed up in different costumes talking about his obsessions, larks, trivial anecdotes and neurosis... Sometimes engaging and sometimes all too much drivel.
I enjoyed reading this wide variety of short works. What stands out is the piece he put together of bumper stickers to make a story. It worked. This is a quick read.
Peter Zuppardo
"Food, they say, is a substitute for love; so, they should say, is everything else."
So, this book is not by David Sedaris, as I initially thought, but it's still enjoyable.
Easily (very easily) his best.
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David Shields is the author of fourteen books, including Reality Hunger (Knopf, 2010), which was named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications. GQ called it "the most provocative, brain-rewiring book of 2010"; the New York Times called it "a mind-bending manifesto." His previous book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), was a New York Times bes ...more
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