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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more female clowns
I received How Should A Person Be from my nutty too-much-Pimm's-cups-drinking aunt as a Christmas gift this year. Having been only vaguely familiar with Sheila Heti's work (I read and very much liked an article she wrote for the New York Times Sunday magazine), and having not a ton of esteem for the aforementioned aunt, the book wasn't on my "must read immediately" list...
Published on Feb. 6 2011 by number23

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
In "How Should a Person Be?," author Sheila Heti and her real-life friends form a cast of irritating characters who meander through the novel in an attempt to erase the line between fact and fiction. Heti's writing certainly displays cleverness and the author admirably explores unconventional narrative structures. However, these assets do not make up for a rootless,...
Published 17 months ago by Reader Writer Runner


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more female clowns, Feb. 6 2011
This review is from: How Should a Person Be? (Hardcover)
I received How Should A Person Be from my nutty too-much-Pimm's-cups-drinking aunt as a Christmas gift this year. Having been only vaguely familiar with Sheila Heti's work (I read and very much liked an article she wrote for the New York Times Sunday magazine), and having not a ton of esteem for the aforementioned aunt, the book wasn't on my "must read immediately" list. However, all of that changed three days ago when I actually started reading the thing. Then it was -- pressingly, unrelentingly -- on my "must read immediately" list... I couldn't ingest it fast enough. I read a lot and have never, ever, LITERALLY, read a woman write so trenchantly and hilariously about female sexuality, the follies and complexities of female friendship, and the struggle of being the creator of something, anything. I think it's easy enough to toss off an opinion such as, "oh, what luxurious problems Sheila and her friends have..." but that would be an abasement of the story. The book is about a group of people grappling with some pretty serious and fundamental aspects of humanity that Ms. Heti herself sums up in the title. How SHOULD we be? How DO we figure out how to best communicate who we are, and do so honestly, with empathy and creativity? And like any good piece of art, she forces us to ask those questions too.

And the writing is just tops. Funny, weird, jarring, insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, Sept. 10 2013
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This review is from: How Should a Person Be? (Hardcover)
Easily the best book I have read this year. Personal, funny as hell and a gorgeous investigation of what it means to be both an artist and a human being. Have really liked Sheila Heti's other books but "How Should a Person Be?" is by far the most exciting and innovative.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 29 2012
By 
Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
In "How Should a Person Be?," author Sheila Heti and her real-life friends form a cast of irritating characters who meander through the novel in an attempt to erase the line between fact and fiction. Heti's writing certainly displays cleverness and the author admirably explores unconventional narrative structures. However, these assets do not make up for a rootless, frustrating plot.

A newly divorced playwright, Sheila struggles to complete a commissioned work while searching for a sense of self. She claims to desire a simple life of fame without having to change her life. In addition to writing, Sheila works in a beauty salon where her boss Uri preaches beauty in balance. She also spends time with her eccentric artist friends including Margaux, to whom she dedicates the book. The novel includes actual taped conversations between Sheila and Margaux as well as emails between the two. After a spell of tasteless partying and druggy debauchery, Margaux "unfriends" Heti for invading her privacy and for buying the same yellow dress at an art festival in Miami.

Meanwhile, Sheila meets a baker named Israel, who considers himself a painter. Heti describes their sadomasochistic antics and worries that she's becoming a narcissist, not without good reason. Finally, Heti leaves Toronto for New York, but ends up no happier there. After a gambling jaunt to Atlantic City, she returns to Toronto and presumably resumes her shiftless life. Definitely not a page-turner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I see what all the fuss is about, Dec 8 2013
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Somehow I stumbled upon this book a couple of years after the hype -- so perhaps this book is now in the tail end of its lifecycle. I very much like the way way the author was able to create a narrative based on her real life problems. My main criterion was whether the book grabbed me. There was definitely an engaging quality, and I sympathised with the author's quest. I've tried to write memoirs and creative bits based on real life experience, but it is very tough to pull off. I get bogged down after about 20 pages, and I stop -- not without emailing the work in progress to a lengthy distribution list. Too much information I suppose, but Sheila figured out a structure and some interesting topics to keep the story moving along. It's kind of like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance without so many prerequisites and complications, without all of that longing for America and all the despair. I must say something about Sheila and felatio. It's not sex, is it? Yeah as Bill Clinton would say. It's just a form of conversation. How are you? Should I keep going or should I stop? Well, after reading the library copy twice and I bought a couple of copies of the paperback. I'm sold. It's very good. My faith and interest in literature has been restored.
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A regrettable purchase, Feb. 6 2011
By 
Renee McTavish (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Should a Person Be? (Hardcover)
My review of this book can be summed up as follows: this book, in my opinion, consists of a lot of pseudo-intellectual, self-congratulating and hoity-toity "I'm an artiste dammit!" nonsense that I couldn't take seriously. The characters seem to be torturing themselves for the sake of having something interesting to say at parties and validate their own creative endeavours.

Shawn Syms of Quill & Quire put it well, "Despite their origins in the real world, the fictional people and predicaments that populate How Should a Person Be? feel like objects in service of an intellectual thesis, lacking sufficient richness and complexity of their own."

I've read several other reviews and they've all been extremely positive, so perhaps I've missed the point of this book. Maybe it is "intellectually exacting" and "deliriously insightful" as other people say and I'm too stupid to understand it - I'm willing to admit to that possibility - but I'm not sure I'm willing to wade back in and re-read it in the hope of finding deeper meaning when I've got so many other books at hand that I feel certain of enjoying more.
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How Should a Person Be?
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti (Hardcover - Sept. 1 2010)
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