by Joyce Zonana

Being for Myself

Sheila, the narrator of Sheila Heti’s provocative “novel from life,” How Should a Person Be? (Henry Holt, $25.00), has been commissioned by a feminist theater company in Toronto to write a play. The theater assures her that while the play need not be feminist, it does have to be about women. Telling herself that she “could just as easily lead the people out of bondage” with commissioned words as with words that come directly from herself, Sheila, who constantly compares herself to Moses while having an affair with a man named “Israel,” accepts the job. She admits, though, to knowing nothing about women and being deeply confused both about how or what to write and about how to live: “I felt like I was the tin man, the lion, and the scarecrow in one: I could not feel my heart, I had no courage, I could not use my brain.”

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