Book Review: How Should A Person Be? By Sheila Heti

How Should A Person Be By Sheila Heti Title: How Should A Person Be?
Author: Sheila Heti
Publisher: Harvill Secker, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-1-846-55754-5
Genre: Literary Fiction, Meta-Novel
Pages: 306
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

How should a person be? Maybe this is one of those questions that cannot be answered that easily. There is always contemplation and then there is giving up on the answer. There are perceptions and opinions and more speculations, but never an answer and maybe there shouldn’t be one. When I read Sheila Heti’s book, “How Should a Person Be?” I immediately knew one thing: She sure is not talking about how a person should be; she is maybe in fact talking about how a person should be given other people and situations that surround us. However, I also believe that each reader has his or her thoughts about the book, so maybe we can agree to disagree at some point.

“How Should A Person Be?” reads like a meta-novel and at the same time it reads like literary fiction. The book draws from life and also evokes life to draw from it in most places. The inlay says that it is a novel from life and yes it is exactly that, which is why I loved it so much. The book is a fictionalized memoir – Sheila is reeling from a divorce, she is a playwright and is unsure of how to live and create. Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist enter her life and life is never the same.

The book is written sometimes as a personal document and sometimes as a novel, which is what makes it so difficult to follow at times and at the same time it makes you ponder so much on the basic questions of love and life. Margaux and Israel are characters that exist so Sheila can make her decisions, so she can learn what she wants to do and unlearn at the same time.

The writing is like that of a painter painting his masterpiece in deft and swift strokes. The good thing according to me in the book is that there aren’t any conclusions and it shouldn’t be the case as well. Everything is not laid out for the reader to see meaning into or interpret. The book is like life – playing itself out without any meanings. There aren’t any answers, though the questions put are way too many – how does one love? Is there a way to live this life? Can one live in a manner better than this? The idea is to keep turning the pages – to read through the words, carefully, and then figuring it out for yourself. I will recommend this book to people who can stomach a story told differently. This book is not for people who are used to the traditional form of storytelling. You might want to give this a shot to read something different.

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