Sheila Heti, the Interviews Editor at The Believer, has also written several books including How Should a Person Be?, experimentally told with emails and transcribed conversations and described as “part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy exploration of the artistic impulse.” She’ll be at Greenlight tomorrow evening with Kenneth Goldsmith to celebrate the paperback release.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
The Village Voice once said of my book Ticknor, “Missing Ticknor would be like missing pistachios.” I thought that was accurate, but only if one likes pistachios.
What have you recently read (or seen or heard or tasted or etc.) that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Right now I’m reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Volume 2. Reading it gives me the same dizzy-yet-centered feeling as looking at a Gerhard Richter painting—one of his portraits or landscapes. Richter has an amazing new book out called Patterns. It’s basically page after page of patterns. I like this song by Daniel Johnston, “True Love Will Find You in the End,” with a video that someone named mattcrav made for it. And Melancholia just came to mind—the Lars Von Trier movie—even though I saw it a few years ago. I guess it’s still making my life better.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Who, who lives in a place like Toronto with their working-class parents a bus ride away and no hard feelings, could be starving?
If you couldn’t express yourself through your writing, what other medium would you choose?
I don’t feel like I “express myself through writing” and that if I couldn’t, I would choose another medium like paint or photography. I love words and sentences and books, and playing with words and sentences and books is the thing I most love to do, and doing it makes the thoughts and feelings come. I don’t have the same love for paint or film, in terms of playing with them. Playing with them wouldn’t make thoughts or feelings come because for me they don’t feel bottomless the way words do.
If this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, what would be your ideal fallback?
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
They like the book, and they tell everyone they know about it, but this fact never makes its way back to me.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Most journalism. Most of the things I write for money I would like to take back once I get the money.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart