“We’ll all be dead quite soon. This is our one chance to learn something about life on earth. I’m imbued with the question of, ‘Why all these masks?'”
With his new book, The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power (Mad Creek Books), essayist David Shields applies the literary microscope to his own marriage and explores — through a collage of perspectives — the subtle psychological game of S/M it’s grown into over the decades. David & I get into the challenge of writing about his marriage without destroying it, what his family thinks of the book, whether he finds it funny to be blurbed as “the most honest writer alive”, his ‘nothing but epiphanies’ approach to the personal essay, the obsessive personae he adopts for his books and the influence of (two–time pod-guest) Phillip Lopate on his work. We also talk about the difference between vulnerability and weakness, the taboo about male submission, the limits of disclosure, the lessons of parenting, our mutual sports-fixation and our love for Ichiro, and plenty more! BONUS: My all-important advice about what not to do in your hotel room. Give it a listen! And go buy The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power!
“I think a writer carves a swath through some part of their psyche, and phrases themselves as the whole world turning on this subject. That gives you a book.”
“Stripped-nakedness is my go-to, my writing strategy.”
About our Guest
David Shields is the internationally best-selling author of twenty-two books, including Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (named one of the best books of 2010 by more than thirty publications), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (New York Times bestseller), Black Planet (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award), and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (NYTBR Editors’ Choice selection). The film adaptation of I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel was released by First Pond Entertainment in 2017. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and a senior contributing editor of Conjunctions, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, Yale Review, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Believer. His work has been translated into two dozen languages. His new book is The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Lexington Hotel in NYC on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Shields by me. It’s on my instagram.