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Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on May 18, 2015
I was very hopeful for this book, having attended a lecture which Sheila Heti gave, but I was terribly disappointed by its three hundred pages of heedless self-indulgence. While initially enamored with the honesty in the first few chapters, the book quickly dissolved into a directionless and frustrating tour of the lives of those who un-ironically insist upon their own bohemian artistic genius, while providing absolutely no evidence in support of the claim. Heti employed some interesting narrative techniques, but muddied them with the blandness of her own life. Indeed, Heti looms incessantly large in this novel, leaving it feeling like a love letter written to herself and her friends who can't go two sentences without insisting upon their own subversiveness.

Heti clumsily presents the notions of a female defecating and the intricacies of oral sex as if they hadn't been trotted out and been beaten to death by her innumerable predecessors, all the while patting herself on the back for doing an artistic service to the world. The book absolutely reeks of the smug self-satisfaction only a masterpiece could justify, and while I am absolutely convinced that Sheila Heti believes herself to be an author of such artistic prowess, I remain woefully unconvinced.
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on February 6, 2011
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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