Sheila Heti's How Should A Person Be? Is Blowing Up

Illustration for article titled Sheila Hetis iHow Should A Person Be?/i Is Blowing Up

You've probably already heard about the U.S. release of Sheila Heti's excellent novel, How Should A Person Be? — maybe you read the author's g-chat Paris Review interview, or noticed Lena Dunham name-check the book in Entertainment Weekly, or, oh yeah, the book got the full James Wood treatment this week in the New Yorker. But if you are looking for a point of entry to Heti's latest, you could do a lot worse than Chris Kraus's take, offered in the Los Angeles Review of Books. "How Should a Person Be?'s deft, picaresque construction, which lightly-but-devastatingly parodies the mores of Toronto's art scene, has more in common with Don Quixote than with Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls or the fatuous blogs and social media it will, due to its use of constructed reality, inevitably be compared with," writes Kraus, who compares Heti to Kathy Acker. "What is an epic quest for a girl?" Well:

CANADIAN WRITER SHEILA HETI'S breakthrough novel How Should a Person Be? recounts the author's faux-epic quest for a personal life; or more specifically, a life that will support and engender a kind of writing she can believe in. How Should a Person Be? was written from 2005 — when Heti was 28 — through 2012. Her beautifully crafted short-story collection, The Middle Stories, had been published four years prior. Ticknor, her first novel (a historical fiction revolving around the relation of a 19th-century biographer towards his subject) had just been published in the United States by Farrar, Straus and Giroux under then-editor Lorin Stein. As a young, married woman writing intelligently and poetically about "serious" subjects that had little to do with her own experience, Heti was poised for a distinguished career as a writer of "difficult" high literary fiction.

But then things broke down.

What Women Say To One Another [LARB]

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DISCUSSION

Currently reading Sheila's previous book "Chair's are where the people go" which is basically a book long interview but I'm enjoying it immensely. The subject, Misha, is a Charades instructor, but he has some incredibly insightful, intelligent and witty things to say. Let's face it anyone who can make money off Charades is a genius. It's like reading a Malcolm Gladwell if he were a youthful hipster with a good grasp common sense and humour, This is what I loved about Toronto and people from there, absolute unapologetic enthusiasm for everything. Everybody says Toronto wants to be New York, which it will never be. What it already is, is far better and unique. Sheila also claims that she has a low attention span and that's why it took her so long to write any book. But If "chairs" is reflection of her writing then I'm more than happy to read it. screw the critics.