A debate, nearly to the death, about life and art, cocktails included. And a soon-to-be major motion picture from James Franco! Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he's a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art. Shields and Powell spend four days together in a cabin in the Cascade Mountains, playing chess, shooting hoops, hiking to lakes and an abandoned mine; they rewatch My Dinner with AndrE, Sideways, and The Trip, relax in a hot tub, and talk about everything they can think of in the name of exploring and debating their central question: life and/or art. The relationship - and the balance of power - between Shields and Powell is in constant flux, as two egos try to undermine each other, two personalities overlap and collapse. This audiobook seeks to demolish the QA format; it also seeks to confound, as much as possible, the divisions between "reality" and "fiction", between "life" and "art". There are no teachers or students, no interviewers or interviewees, no masters in the universe, only a chasm of uncertainty.
After reading/hearing other works by Shields, which I liked a lot, I turned to this one, and found it less engaging, but still worthwhile. It's an unpolished dialogue about a range of topics related to middle-aged North American intellectual bros, partially cloying, but also with gleams of insight and references to literary and cultural works that seem worth seeking out. Some good theories of culture, the meaning of life, sports, and personal ethics. This is nothing mind-blowing, but ideally suited for audio consumption while you're cleaning your kitchen.
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