1. I’ve just finished How Should a Person Be? (a novel from life) by Canadian writer Sheila Heti. I wanted to read it because the New Yorker review by James Wood said the book “takes its place in a contemporary literary movement that is impatient with conventional fiction-making. ‘Increasingly I’m less interested in writing about fictional people, Heti said….because it seems so tiresome to make up a fake person and put them through the paces of a fake story…’
2. How Should a Person Be? follows the quest of Sheila who is trying discover some basis of an authentic ‘I’ and finish her failed feminist play. Sheila’s milieu is her young artist friends in Toronto – the painters Margaux, Sholem (both engaged in a competition to paint the ugliest painting), Israel her erotically dominating lover, and others. A device that runs through the book is Sheila tape recording the conversations of her friends, particularly Margaux, as a way of answering her questions.
3. The book has an intense youth-orientated autobiographical atmosphere that reminds me of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. The book also reminds me of Lena Dunham’s Girls and another similar TV series that’s currently running, about young spunky girls sharing a flat in the city, the name of which escapes me (too lazy to Google).
4. In the end the thing that interested me most, and seemed the freest thing about the book, was the gathering of formal devices from other forms – emails, written as numbered lists, and transcribed conversations written as script dialogue. Both forms mix with fiction and raw and, at times, graceless philosophical reflection.
5. Getting as close to reality as possible in an art form, always seems like a thrilling thing. James Wood notes in his review “…among the difficulties of this kind of storytelling is that one can never get enough reality into it. Realism is perpetually hungry, and keeps on trying new ways – every fifty years or so – to break into the larder.”
6. In my work, although I love the idea of ripping experience in as raw a form as possible, I can only create when something connects as a forming idea, lifting it the multitude of ‘stuff’ that goes on all the time, and that the world is composed of.
7. I would like though to find ways of including as much of the ‘stuff’ as possible.
8. Here’s a link to a number of reviews.
9. I’ve been reminded that the name of the TV show is Don’t trust the B—- in apartment 23.