Lake Effect, Spring 2008, Volume 12: Reality

David Shields



from Reality Hunger: A Manifesto


These are the facts, my friend, and I must have faith in them.


What is a fact?  What’s a lie, for that matter?  What, exactly, constitutes an essay or a story or a poem or even an experience?  What happens when we can no longer freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience?

During the middle of a gig, Sonny Rollins sometimes used to wander outside and add the sound of his horn to the cacophony of passing cabs.

Have you ever heard a record that makes you feel as good as Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips—Part 2?  I haven’t.  It’s so real.  When you listen to the record, you can hear a guy in the band yelling, “What key?  What key?”  He’s lost.  But then he finds the key, and boom.  Every time I hear that guy yelling, “What key?” I get excited.

Soul is the music people understand.  Sure, it’s basic and it’s simple, but it’s something else ’cause it’s honest.  There’s no fuckin’ bullshit.  It sticks its neck out and says it straight from the heart.  It grabs you by the balls.

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector.

Ichiro Suzuki, the first Japanese position player in the major leagues, has unusually good eyesight and hand-eye coordination and works extremely hard at his craft, but his main gift is that he’s present in reality.  If he’s chasing a fly ball, he doesn’t sort of watch the ball; he really, really, really watches the ball.  When sportswriters ask him questions, he inevitably empties out the bromide upon which the question is based.  Once, after running deep into foul territory to make an extraordinary catch to preserve a victory, he was asked, “When did you know you were going to catch the ball?”  Ichiro said, “When I caught it.”

Don’t waste your time; get to the real thing.