sheila heti and the novel 'how should a person be?'

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i have a lot of conflicted opinions about this book and it sort of rubs at some raw spots of my own so i don't think theyre particularly worthwhile or sensible atm but i think this is a p 'interesting' book. at the very least i admire her ability to be both inelegant and in print.

or how about: david foster wallace is to 'community' as sheila heit is to 'louie'? maybe that will get some new responses...

Lamp, Friday, 29 June 2012 17:04 (twelve years ago) link

I enjoyed 'Ticknor' but I haven't read this one yet. It seems like something about which I'll have a lot of conflicted opinions also, and I am intrigued. My library doesn't have it so I might have to purchase.

franny glass, Saturday, 30 June 2012 18:09 (twelve years ago) link

Well, Lamp, there's an article up on Slate:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2012/06/sheila_heti_s_how_should_a_person_be_reviewed_.html

It's not a very good article, imo, pretty flimsy thesis based on a misreading of Claire Cameron's interview. But the first two paragraphs neatly summarize and link to the dialogue-to-date.

manditory fun. day (Ówen P.), Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:00 (twelve years ago) link

*more on "misreading". Sheila's description of her relationship with Paris Review-guy is far more positive than Michelle then paraphrases

manditory fun. day (Ówen P.), Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:01 (twelve years ago) link

am def interested in this. this is lazy of me but i already feel conflicted about sheila heti without having really read her, her having always seemed interesting & different & visible, in magazines and conversation & doing stuff like trampoline hall, but with ticknor not really grabbing me enough to persevere with.

some of her last book, of conversations with her friend, was v nice, cf p4./'Margaux' in this extract. it makes me want to read the new one in the hope that some wisdom will be mapped onto the characters of the novel.

(strikes me that this thread should come up w/a policy for discharge of quote marks, since "character" & "novel" &c&c are gonna be terms that require definition in this context).

blossom smulch (schlump), Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:09 (twelve years ago) link

yeah i am not going to read something published by slate...

0wen :P what did you think of the book? have you read it? i feel like the book is particularly resonant and particularly irksome for someone who lives in toronto. and im certain im less sympathetic and patient w/the books characters because of how much i hate the sort of pseud-y, professional class creatives that are so numerous here and that benefit from this cities love of mediocrity...

like i realize thats p aimless and self-revealing but its like oh ok the internet and then you run up against the prickly self-satisfaction of the 'vaguely intelligent party talk' types that it starts to get under your skin and you lose distance from the wry and not-so-wry self-deprecation and the horror of other peoples words seem less horrible than the ostentatious self-display of horror and you think about parties you go to and the sort of people that produce unpopular shows for cbc television and own nicer homes in nicer neighborhoods than you/i do huh

Lamp, Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:23 (twelve years ago) link

oh man its just really hot, in my apartment, right now i think i thought i was being amusing and working my way into her style and not just being a sour crank itp haha but...

Lamp, Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:33 (twelve years ago) link

Post of the year, imo

manditory fun. day (Ówen P.), Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:45 (twelve years ago) link

Haven't read it yet, no, I'm simulreading Jane Bowles and late-Cerebus and "2666" and this Anne Carson thing and some essays and stuff, but knowing my taste I'll probably love it, not just b/c nepotism.

I must say that "Toronto's love of mediocrity" is immediately problematic, I encounter just as much mediocre stuff in NYC and Montreal and L.A. as I do my hometown. Yeah there's tonnes of mediocre shit round here, and a lot of times the close-knit scene means you can't guillotine a dude for putting on a bad show/play/gig etc. I don't think that constitutes a love of mediocrity, it's the same shit that goes on in any other city

The difference in Toronto, in my experience, is that it's easier to live in Toronto w/less money, so "pseud-y professional class creatives" can do sushi and chocolate even if their art is still a subsistence economy.

And there's the whole perceived notion about 'making it' once The New Yorker writes about you but that's def. not confined just to this city, blah blah, back to work, will read the Heti next week

manditory fun. day (Ówen P.), Saturday, 30 June 2012 21:02 (twelve years ago) link

Oh and I was accused of being oppressively pro-Toronto last night so yeah I'll stop

manditory fun. day (Ówen P.), Saturday, 30 June 2012 21:04 (twelve years ago) link

the stuff about toronto is less about the actual city than 'toronto' or the toronto of the mind that this book conjures up. i do think theres a connection btw the way she posits these big, difficult question and the smirky way she avoids answering them even while pointing sometimes artfully at ideas and the cultural life of toronto, the way it can seem bigger/more important/more 'worthwhile' from the outside but petty and self-protective from the inside. the evasive shrug and retrenchment matches my experience of the city i guess.

i mean i have a lot of problems with the city that are way bigger than this thread and this book sort of half touches on them, i also think its sort of irritating in a familiar way, its the people that drink at the bars my friends work at, the poor tippers and the line cutters and the i know the menu says no substitutions but i mean really-ers who take up so much space in the life of the city. like i said this is p conflicted and self-revealing, but i think the discrepancy or the distance btw these 'characters' and the meat of the novel and 'real life' are interesting and purposeful. of course im reading my own xps and hang-ups into things but the restlessness of privilege seems important, its another weight that the characters are caring and sometimes failing to bear??? idk

Lamp, Saturday, 30 June 2012 21:20 (twelve years ago) link

half way through this and i really dont feel like i get it

just sayin, Friday, 13 July 2012 12:10 (twelve years ago) link

I met S.H. once about 10 yrs ago when she was married to C.W. She seemed v. nice.

Never translate Dutch (jaymc), Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06 (twelve years ago) link

eight months pass...

http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2013/04/02/how-should-a-writer-be-interview-with-sheila-heti-jill-margo/

I don’t think there’s anything interesting about a writer who isn’t doing radically what they want to do. I feel like there’s no other realm in life in which you can be free. You can’t be free in a relationship, you can’t be free as a mother, you can’t be free as a daughter, you can’t be free as a citizen, and you can’t be free in any realm of life. The only person who can be free is the artist through their work. They can’t be free as a human but the work can be free—they can be free with their work. I think that’s why we go to art, to see what the human is when they’re free.

If you’re not free, because you’re afraid you’re going to look weird to people or something like that, then I don’t see what there is to get out of the work or where the pleasure is for the reader. The thing one hopes for in a work of art is for it to be an example of freedom—and by freedom I think I mean totality—the totality of what a human is. Then people can experience every part of themselves. Going through life, you usually can’t experience every part of yourself on a day-to-day basis, but art should be a reminder of all the different parts of yourself and should light those up.

j., Thursday, 4 April 2013 09:16 (eleven years ago) link

well, i liked the book more than i like those two paragraphs

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Thursday, 4 April 2013 18:36 (eleven years ago) link

Hey, good timing reviving this thread, because I'm reading and loving The Chairs Are Where The People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City, by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti. Heti apparently listened and wrote down Glouberman's thoughts, and the result is an unpretentious and North American equivalent of Alain de Botton.

http://www.amazon.com/Chairs-Are-Where-People-Go/dp/0865479453

cougars and sneezers (Eazy), Friday, 5 April 2013 00:06 (eleven years ago) link

i can't decide if that comes out a good thing or not

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Friday, 5 April 2013 00:11 (eleven years ago) link

i did just get around to ordering that book like yesterday though. i read some terrible thing making fun of him recently, where did i read that.

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Friday, 5 April 2013 00:12 (eleven years ago) link

also i only just now realised that 'misha glauberman' is probably the person who is cleverly disguised as 'misha' in the highly obscure roman a clef 'how should a person be'

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Friday, 5 April 2013 00:13 (eleven years ago) link

i've read some of 'chairs', it was ok, i'll read some more

j., Friday, 5 April 2013 01:48 (eleven years ago) link

He's married to 'Margaux.'

cougars and sneezers (Eazy), Friday, 5 April 2013 03:16 (eleven years ago) link

Yes.

attempt to look intentionally nerdy, awkward or (thomp), Friday, 5 April 2013 17:44 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

yes, she is very smirky, isn't she.

i've only just started this, and i recognize that there are bound to be subtleties and complexities, but i was struck by the wish expressed at the beginning to live a beautiful life / be a beautiful person.

that definitely gathers up a bunch of culturally-adjacent and contemporary attitudes, sensibilities, lifestyle practices, whatever, that have a feel of something suspect running through them. like, the spiritualized self-care wing of lifehackism; affiliated with morning-pages creativity stimulation exercise, the simplification movement, yoga, whatever. the ickiness of focusing so intently on making your life beautiful.

but that's just an initial impression. i'm sure there's supposed to be something provocative about the opening that caused it anyway, what with the insouciance about expectations, what a woman genius has to be like, etc.

just before this i also read the first bunch of pages of knausgaard, so the very different attitudes expressed toward shame/being seen/being who you are were thrown into pretty sharp contrast.

j., Saturday, 6 December 2014 19:38 (nine years ago) link

eight months pass...

j did you finish i. this ii. knausgaard??

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 August 2015 08:45 (eight years ago) link

i. no
ii. no

i should finish the heti soon tho, it's hella breezy

plan to read novels to embiggen my spirit fell by the wayside due to spirit-crushing life : (

j., Thursday, 20 August 2015 19:36 (eight years ago) link

ㅠㅠ

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 22 August 2015 12:09 (eight years ago) link

indeed, just like that

j., Saturday, 22 August 2015 15:56 (eight years ago) link

that definitely gathers up a bunch of culturally-adjacent and contemporary attitudes, sensibilities, lifestyle practices, whatever, that have a feel of something suspect running through them. like, the spiritualized self-care wing of lifehackism; affiliated with morning-pages creativity stimulation exercise, the simplification movement, yoga, whatever. the ickiness of focusing so intently on making your life beautiful.

I haven't tried to read Heti yet but I like this post a lot. I suspect that some of the ickiness of it comes from the fact that behind each of these things is a man ready to sell you something.

five six and (man alive), Saturday, 22 August 2015 16:52 (eight years ago) link

hmm, yes. maybe that's why her own literary presentation engaging with so much of this has that artworldish… nonchalance about it, the kind you get where clearly everyone is swimming in money and the circulation of power and status and fashion games and it's all so hollow dahlink but of course that's just the way it is etc - i.e. any artworld phenomenon that's not accompanied by a (performance of a) really stringent critical attitude (not saying that this necessarily amounts to anything anyway) about the material conditions of its own existence or the material conditions of its milieu.

since her own performance has a kind of self-promotional, self-selling (because self-styling) quality to it, it can't help but imply an attitude, not an endorsement but kind of a non-non-endorsement, of the whole reigning idea of men being ready to sell you things. 'ok here i'll sell you something too'.

j., Saturday, 22 August 2015 16:58 (eight years ago) link

five months pass...

Well, let's say it's not a matter of anti-personality, but anti-review. So on Goodreads, if it turned out that every 1 star reviewer gave 5 stars to some other author, and vice-versa. The idea reduces personality to metrics and that's wrong. But if this theory were correct, how badly would you want to meet your anti-author?

Not badly.

Really?

I don't really feel like meeting people these days.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 4 February 2016 21:01 (eight years ago) link

From this interview: http://www.0s-1s.com/thick-skin-i

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 4 February 2016 21:02 (eight years ago) link

four months pass...

just read the folded clock by heidi julavits and it kinda reminded me of this? maybe? altho i liked the folded clock WAY more

just sayin, Monday, 27 June 2016 01:26 (eight years ago) link

six years pass...

I met her yesterday! She visited my university to do a reading and a few of us got to have coffee with her beforehand. I brought up an essay she wrote about Annie years ago, which amused her--she mentioned that her father was a big fan of that piece. She read from her upcoming project (set to be published early next year) in which she arranges her diaries alphabetically by sentence. It was all very cool.

niall horanburger (cryptosicko), Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:00 (one year ago) link


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