How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
A Novel from Life

81%

7 Critic Reviews

This novel, which includes not just real people but their emails and transcribed conversations, and dangles itself precariously somewhere between "real life" and "art" is, in the end, a meditation on ugliness rather than beauty...
-Guardian

Synopsis

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?

 

About Sheila Heti

See more books from this Author
Sheila Heti is the author of five books, including the "novel from life" How Should a Person Be? and The Chairs Are Where the People Go, co-authored with Misha Glouberman, which the New Yorker called "a triumph of conversational philosophy." She lives in Toronto. Ross Simonini is a musician, writer, and artist living in New York. He has edited interviews at the Believer since 2007. Vendela Vida co-founded the Believer in 2003. She is the author of four books, including the novels Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Lovers.
 
Published June 19, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction
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Critic reviews for How Should a Person Be?
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Haglund on Jul 05 2012

...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.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Scarlett Thomas on Jan 11 2013

This novel, which includes not just real people but their emails and transcribed conversations, and dangles itself precariously somewhere between "real life" and "art" is, in the end, a meditation on ugliness rather than beauty...

Read Full Review of How Should a Person Be?: A No... | See more reviews from Guardian

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Pat Padua on Aug 24 2013

Heti’s verbal restraint keeps How Should a Person Be? Both grounded and off-balance. When she lets that restraint go, as in a tour de force sexual fantasia about an abusive lover named Israel, its power is all the more startling.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Kay Hymowitz on Jun 29 2012

The Canadian writer Sheila Heti brings a...mix of artistic ambition, generational self-awareness and humorous deflation to her novel "How Should a Person Be?"

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Jun 20 2012

Heti may or may not answer the question she poses in the title — like so much in the book, it depends on how you read it.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Jun 19 2012

I read this eccentric book in one sitting, amazed, disgusted, intrigued, sometimes titillated I'll admit to that, but always in awe of this new Toronto writer who seems to be channeling Henry Miller one minute and Joan Didion the next.

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The Economist

Good
on Jan 19 2013

Ms Heti’s mordant take on modernity encourages introspection. It is easy to see why a book on the anxiety of celebrity has turned the author into one herself.

Read Full Review of How Should a Person Be?: A No... | See more reviews from The Economist

Reader Rating for How Should a Person Be?
48%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 174 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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