Ticknor by Sheila Heti
A Novel

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"A small masterpiece" (National Post)-An utterly original first novel from a rising international star

On a cold, rainy night, an aging bachelor named George Ticknor prepares to visit his childhood friend Prescott, now one of the leading intellectual lights of their generation. Reviewing a life of petty humiliations, and his friend's brilliant career, Ticknor sets out for the dinner party-a party at which he'd just as soon never arrive.

Distantly inspired by the real-life friendship between the great historian William Hickling Prescott and his biographer, Ticknor is a witty, fantastical study in resentment. It recalls such modern masterpieces of obsession as Thomas Bernhard's The Loser and Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine and announces the arrival of a charming and original novelist, one whose stories have already earned her a passionate international following.

"A perceptive act of ventriloquism, [Ticknor] rewards thought and rereading, and offers a finely cadenced voice, intelligence and . . . moody beauty." -Catherine Bush, The Globe and Mail

"Confoundedly strange [and] fascinating." -Nicholas Dinka, Quill & Quire


About Sheila Heti

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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 April 4, 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 132 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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His work receives “a great roar from the national press,” while Ticknor has been working ten years on one article, and cannot even get Prescott’s opinion of it.

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Publishers Weekly

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As Heti notes, she has based this slender, first-person work on American George Ticknor's mid-19th-century biography of historian William Hickling Prescott, but the lonely, querulous voice of her invented George is all her own.

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(Ticknor even wrote Prescott’s biography in 1863, a tome which co-incidentally served as Heti’s inspiration for writing this novel.) I don’t want to go too harsh on Heti as word in the rumour mill suggests that she is something of a rarity in writing circles for someone welding her level of power...

May 03 2005 | Read Full Review of Ticknor: A Novel

Gather Books

On a rainy night, George Ticknor departs for his friend William Prescott’s dinner party, carrying a pie.

Mar 04 2007 | Read Full Review of Ticknor: A Novel

The Paris Review

The novel is a blend of the real and the imaginary—and somehow, in the process of recording her life, real Sheila blends into fictional Sheila, creating a work of metafiction that is playful, funny, wretched, and absolutely true.

Jun 18 2012 | Read Full Review of Ticknor: A Novel


“I can see the bicycles tied to the poles and the drooping awnings and my soiled shoes.” Ticknor’s story is told by Ticknor himself, to himself, in a complex version of the first person that renders wonderfully the near-second person that we use when we talk to ourselves: “There was a woman I lov...

Jul 24 2007 | Read Full Review of Ticknor: A Novel