I just started reading Toronto writer Sheila Heti’s book “How Should A Person Be?” It’s a thoughtful account of a snapshot into her life in Toronto – the struggles, excitement, love, and hate, really the whole package. Her writing is frank yet flawed, in essence her narrative is something that can be related to.
In slaughtering this book in less than 3 days, which may be a record for me, I’ve come to realize the emergent woman in contemporary media is the regular, flawed woman. Without even noticing, I’ve come to adore the flawed protagonist in television shows – Hannah Horvath (Girls), Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project), Jessica Day (The New Girl), Miranda July, and of course Sheila Heti. What made me think about all this was the comments of praise that both Dunham and July said of Heti’s book. They read:
“A really amazing metafiction-meets-nonfiction novel that’s so funny and strange.” – Lena Dunham
“A book that risks everything… Complex, artfully messy, and hilarious.” – Miranda July
I guess this shift away from the manic pixie dream girl is a good move and of course a shift away from the cookie cutter image of what a woman should ideally look like is a plus too. I am just not sure that I like all of my floppy, insecurities on display for everyone to see. Maybe it’s endearing, maybe not. I do take a unique pleasure in knowing some of the horrendous experiences that these TV show regular gals encounter are stuff that I too have experienced. They’re fake, I’m real. What I think matters, not what Mindy Kaling thinks. I will likely never meet Kaling, as much as I’d really like to.
OK, off to live my regular girl life. However if you want to delve into someone else’s life, I highly recommend picking up Sheila Heti’s light read titled “How Should A Person Should Be?” Strategically structured words made into a question reflect Heti’s inquisitive and insecure narrative – it’s an adventure, not a manifesto. Her book made with her pal Mischa Glouberman titled “The Chairs Are Where People Go” is another good, simple read, perfect for zoning out on the subway.
Also, my friend Dan interviewed Heti about her book.