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How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
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How Should a Person Be?

by Sheila Heti

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3142435,401 (3.1)18
  1. 00
    Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti (sduff222)
  2. 00
    You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt (tandah)
    tandah: Ironic parallels - I found them because I was coincidentally reading them at the same time.
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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. I really did want to love it, because I haven't read a novel in a while that I've been absolutely crazy about. I liked a lot of what the protagonist/author had to say about self perception and the idea of being confused about "how you should be," but I guess I'm sort of at my limit of semi autobiographical pieces of art from twenty somethings about finding their place in the world. This book said some of the same things in a new way, but I find the overall genre to be self indulgent and repetitive and also maybe speaks to our self obsessed culture in which everyone thinks that their own story alone will be fascinating, marketable and inspiring to others. But at the same time, maybe ident want to hear about it because I'm living through similar issues? I guess id be interested to see if she could write about anything but herself.

Also I hated (HATED) the last scene. Two of the protagonist'a friends were playing a game of squash that managed to become a symbol for a 20 something's path through their early adult life. It was so cheesy. "Then finally Jon said, 'I don't think they even know the rules. I think they're just slamming the ball around.' And so they were." ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. I really did want to love it, because I haven't read a novel in a while that I've been absolutely crazy about. I liked a lot of what the protagonist/author had to say about self perception and the idea of being confused about "how you should be," but I guess I'm sort of at my limit of semi autobiographical pieces of art from twenty somethings about finding their place in the world. This book said some of the same things in a new way, but I find the overall genre to be self indulgent and repetitive and also maybe speaks to our self obsessed culture in which everyone thinks that their own story alone will be fascinating, marketable and inspiring to others. But at the same time, maybe ident want to hear about it because I'm living through similar issues? I guess id be interested to see if she could write about anything but herself.

Also I hated (HATED) the last scene. Two of the protagonist'a friends were playing a game of squash that managed to become a symbol for a 20 something's path through their early adult life. It was so cheesy. "Then finally Jon said, 'I don't think they even know the rules. I think they're just slamming the ball around.' And so they were." ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
I didn't hate this, but I didn't love it either. I really did want to love it, because I haven't read a novel in a while that I've been absolutely crazy about. I liked a lot of what the protagonist/author had to say about self perception and the idea of being confused about "how you should be," but I guess I'm sort of at my limit of semi autobiographical pieces of art from twenty somethings about finding their place in the world. This book said some of the same things in a new way, but I find the overall genre to be self indulgent and repetitive and also maybe speaks to our self obsessed culture in which everyone thinks that their own story alone will be fascinating, marketable and inspiring to others. But at the same time, maybe ident want to hear about it because I'm living through similar issues? I guess id be interested to see if she could write about anything but herself.

Also I hated (HATED) the last scene. Two of the protagonist'a friends were playing a game of squash that managed to become a symbol for a 20 something's path through their early adult life. It was so cheesy. "Then finally Jon said, 'I don't think they even know the rules. I think they're just slamming the ball around.' And so they were." ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
Beautiful and true. ( )
  outlandishlit | Jun 9, 2014 |
Difficult to see this as a novel, when it distinctly reads as a memoir. Whilst her introspection can at times feel like a swamp of self-centredness - the revelations are often quite profound. ( )
  tandah | Jan 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
I do not think this novel knows everything, but Sheila Heti does know something about how many of us, right now, experience the world, and she has gotten that knowledge down on paper, in a form unlike any other novel I can think of.
 
The most engaging part of the novel is the platonic, intellectual love affair between Sheila and Margaux and their respective learning and negotiation of how a person should be - and the problems that manifest when a person "is" or "does be." In one such dip in the friendship, Sheila pings off to a creepy male lover, Israel, who sends her instructions for solo public sex performances according to his lobotomized porn menu. Heti's settling of Sheila's ongoing trials with Israel and the place in which she finds herself - between sex positivism and a pervert's manipulations - provides splendid writing and a striking inversion of assumptions about sexual power and where it lies (and how it can be reclaimed).If such a novel sounds like hard work, it's not. If anything, it's not hard enough work. When you go to this extent to invoke and provoke with form, we want challenging content too, so Heti could have gone much further.Mercifully, in such constrained publishing times, what Heti's brain and fingertips offer are expanded possibilities for what the novel can be and can become. She's on her way to something original and bolder. In the meantime, How Should a Person Be? makes curious and combative company.
 
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We were having brunch together.
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There are certain people who do not feel like they were raised by wolves, and they are the ones who make the world tick. They are the ones who keep everything functioning so the rest of us can worry about what sort of person we should be. I have read all the books, and I know what they say: You—but better in every way! And yet there are so may ways of being better, and these ways can contradict each other!
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From the internationally acclaimed author of The Middle Stories and Ticknor comes a bold interrogation of the notion of a beautiful life. How Should a Person Be? is a novel of many identities: it is an autobiography of the mind, a postmodern self-help book, and a portrait of the artist as a young woman — of two such artists, in fact. Thrown into a quandary of self-doubt by an early divorce, “Sheila” finds herself questioning how a person should be in the world. Inspired by her friend — the painter Margaux Williamson — and her untortured ability to live and create, Sheila casts Margaux as material, embarking on a series of recordings in which nothing is too personal, too ugly, or too banal to be turned into fiction. When this investigation becomes too difficult, Sheila escapes into a delirious love affair with a male painter and encounters even more painful truths about herself and her desires. Searching, uncompromising, and yet mordantly funny, How Should a Person Be? is a fictional notebook from the psychic underground of Canada’s most fiercely original writer.
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Facing a creative dilemma after a failed marriage, Sheila gathers inspiration from a depraved and free-spirited artist who becomes her lover, in a tale based on incidents from the author's true life.

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