Sheila Heti

How Should a Person Be? (Anansi)

Sheila, meet Sheila. For her third book, Toronto writer Sheila Heti fictionalizes her own life into the character Sheila Heti, who gets divorced, finds a pervy lover, stalls writing a commissioned play and develops an intense friendship with a painter named Margaux. Their rocky relationship is the most compelling thread in the book, which changes structure several times, as Heti and her artist friends try to sort out what it means to create, to be, to live. Heti records her conversations with Margaux, a prolific painter, hoping to kickstart her own work (which then becomes part of the novel), but there are never easy answers. “We do whatever we can to make the other one feel famous,” Heti writes, a smart insight into friendships among creative types. The only thing missing here, sadly, is the heart.

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