36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life (Hardcover)
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The main reason I chose to read this novel is that another reviewer compared it to Scarlett Thomas, one of my favorite novelists. While I do see some similarities, I think that Thomas has far more interesting ideas that she explores with her writing, at least to me. How Should A Person Be? is a (semi?) autobiographical novel, whose main character, Sheila, is working on a play and hangs out with her artist friends, pondering the question in the title: how should a person be? I found the beginning of the novel to be quite boring, especially when she talked about her failed marriage. Thankfully, soon Sheila meets Margaux, a painter, and things get interesting from there. We get transcripts of conversations recorder on Sheila's recorder, and plenty of e-mails. I love that kind of stuff in novels. She also meets Israel, an artist that she says is much better in bed than at art. There is a quite explicit chapter close to the middle of the book where Sheila rants about Israel and how everyone should get together with him, which was quite hilarious. There was a chapter in the beginning of the book where Sheila talks to her Jungian analyst about what it means to be a puer aeternus, a person who never really grows up. That section spoke to me more than anything else in the whole book.
Overall, I really liked How Should A Person Be? It was a pretty quick read. It was at turns boring, depressing, funny, touching, insightful, and even repulsive. It's a novel about what it means to be an artist, what it means to be a woman, and more importantly, what it means to be human. There is no great answer at the end of the book, but isn't that the way life is anyway?
Recommended if you're in the mood for something a little different, that makes you think about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of it all, for a little while.