Sheila Heti’s How Should A Person Be?, a “novel from life” just released in the US (it came out in Canada in 2010), is not the kind of book that comes along often. It’s highly quotable, funny, shocking, anxiety-inducing and, finally, inspiring.
Unfinished books, must you look peevishly at me from your bedside perch of eternal judgment? You represent all that I haven’t done because I’m too busy drinking and watching How I Met Your Mother reruns.
What I took away from Blue Nights and the weekend I spent with my father is that life is precarious. We all claim to know this but we don’t truly understand it until it’s staring right at us in the face.
Life is a valuable, irreplaceable, first-hand account of over fifty years of rock ‘n roll history, filled with insights about music making and music makers and told by one great high octane artist who emerges from these pages as endearing, if not lovable
Paul Auster is perhaps the most accessible writer of those considered to be part of the “high establishment.” And you know the echelon I mean—Roth, Morrison, DeLillo, McCarthy, etc. Yet his new novel, which comes out today, is too accessible, toeing a dangerous line somewhere between the inventive plots of Jonathan Lethem (one of Auster’s own protégés) and the facile sentences of Dan Brown.
Hunger, despite it’s bleak subject, is often a comical novel. The narrator expresses a lot of indignation … But what is this indignation directed towards? The world? The worst thing is that there’s nothing really to direct it towards – except perhaps our own nature, which only inspires more indignation.
She goes on to say that “when she [Pamela] became pregnant he took her to the north of Norway and drove for miles over bumpy roads with the inevitable result of a miscarriage.” Unity (“always the odd one out,” says her sister), fell madly in love with Hitler and, when Britain declared war on Germany, she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled revolver in a Munich park…
Norwich is a born storyteller with a narrative gift and very considerable charm. It may just be that his own beloved nanny told him what Nancy Mitford’s told her before pushing her into a room full of people: “Remember, you are the least important person in that room.”
Picture someone at a large publishing company rejecting Gary Lutz because he is “too difficult to read” before going to lunch at the Four Seasons, laughing something-something sucking snails going “this guy thinks he’s Proust or some shit but I need the numbers where are the numbers you’ve got the numbers” over a pair of sparkling cocktails with Nicholas Sparks or whoever is topping the charts…
The writing is so fresh, so honest, so revealing, that at times the reader may feel that he should not be reading these notes – it is almost a violation of a cherished intimacy and, like the greatest of loves, something not meant to be known to any but the participants themselves.