I remember I first read this “novel” (it’s not really… and as such, has been described as genre-defying) before I ever knew of the phrase or concept, “White Girl Problems.” Many people have criticized this work for being the one thing its characters are trying to get away from: precious at best, narcissistic at worst. What I did know however, is that though I couldn’t quite relate to the lifestyle being portrayed (so chain-smoking at parties, etc.), I understood the questions being asked, and the sentiments being expressed. It might be hard to empathize with the characters, but you find yourself respecting the gutsy it takes to simply and honestly tell your own story. That is exactly what Heti does in How Should A Person Be? It was one of those things I read that helped me understand better that I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t quite get a handle on who I was, and better still, who I should be. And that my not knowing these things didn’t prevent me from creating art.
If you appreciate a book that is thought-provoking and entertaining, you should read Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be? It contains several gems.
Summary from Amazon.com:
A raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millennium—a compulsive read that’s like “spending a day with your new best friend” (Bookforum)
Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life.
Using transcribed conversations, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, the brilliant and always innovative Sheila Heti crafts a work that is part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional. It’s a totally shameless and dynamic exploration into the way we live now, which breathes fresh wisdom into the eternal questions: What is the sincerest way to love? What kind of person should you be?
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