My guest is David Shields. His new book, The Trouble with Men: Reflections on Sex, Love, Marriage, Porn, and Power is an immersion into the perils, limits, and possibilities of human intimacy. All at once a love letter to his wife, a nervy reckoning with his own fallibility, a meditation on the impact of porn on American culture, and an attempt to understand marriage (one marriage, the idea of marriage, all marriages), The Trouble with Men is exquisitely balanced between the personal and the anthropological, nakedness and restraint. While unashamedly intellectual, it’s also irresistibly readable and extremely moving. Over five increasingly intimate chapters, Shields probes the contours of his own psyche and marriage, marshalling a chorus of other voices that leaven, deepen, and universalize his experience; his goal is nothing less than a deconstruction of eros and conventional masculinity. Masterfully woven throughout is an unmistakable and surprisingly tender cri de coeur to his wife. The risk and vulnerability on display are in the service of radical candor, acerbic wit, real emotion, and profound insight—exactly what we’ve come to expect from Shields, who, in an open invitation to the reader, leaves everything on the page.
David Shields is the internationally best-selling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger _(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.