Troy Patterson
May 24, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Memoir of No One in Particular

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Daniel Harris
publisher
Basic
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a C

ENOUGH ABOUT YOU David Shields (Simon & Schuster, $22) So it’s come to this — writing memoirs about memoir writing. The first book is subtitled ”In Which Our Author Indulges in Naive Indiscretions, a Self-Aggrandizing Solipsism, and an Off-Putting Infatuation With His Own Bodily Functions” and proceeds dandyishly therefrom. Harris goes at the minutiae of his being like a wicked critic before a strange painting. In a chapter titled ”Writing,” for instance, he turns the mockery of his old diaries into a vivid essay on self-invention. Shields, meanwhile, advertises Enough About You as ”a book about the impulse to write autobiographically, to turn oneself into one’s subject.” In practice, this means that he throws in a bunch of small pieces on memoirs he really likes. He also likes Bill Murray, pro basketball, and Renata Adler, whose excellent 1976 novel, Speedboat, provides Shields with a model of fragmentary structure his self-serious self-scrutiny can’t sustain. Shields — who devotes one chapter to replying to old book reviews — is the type of memoirist that Harris is flaying when he writes, ”Like the majority of people, I enjoy the odor of my own farts.”

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