Signed, Clueless in the Catskills
Gosh, what can I say? As promised, I have been reading Ms. Heti’s book (I am on page 133, the beginning of the chapter “They Wander the City on Drugs,” which came shortly after the chapter “Interlude for Fucking,” a several page devotional to, well, fucking, and more specifically, to the maniacal (?), magical (?) obsession that fills a girl when she is ensnared by lust, a particular…situation, submission. I can’t even get into all the possible ways one can describe this scenario, but here is a line: “I can see that your body must be for many women, and though I once thought the same of mine—that mine must be for all the men who wanted me—I can just tease you with it if you will keep on fucking me. I wouldn’t want your cum wasted on one girl, not when there are so many girls to take on your disinterested fucking. Fuck whatever sluts it’s your fancy to fuck. You will find me in your home one day, cooking or doing your laundry, as you wish….”)
The fucking chapter comes closely after a chapter called “Two Dresses,” in which Shelia, the main character, receives a total smack-down email, which is transcribed, from her BFF Margaux (the name of Ms. Heti’s real-life artist friend), about how disappointed she is in Shelia for having bought the exact same dress as she bought on a recent trip to Miami: “i think it’s pretty standard that you don’t buy the dress your friend is buying…” She ends her note by writing “i’m going to get rid of the dress now, cause it makes me a little sad to look at it.”
How should a person live? I am dying to know. Ms. Heti covers all the bases in her book: the urge to make art, the longing for connection, the bliss of conversation, the insanity of sex, the crippling self-consciousness of being both sharp and deluded at the same time. Trying to use the power of thought to free oneself from thinking. I am so drawn to the content of the book, and the voice/s, are appealing, but I am still clueless about how to live, or how Ms. Heti would like me to consider the question (deconstruction is so random and boring I refuse to accept that as “the point.”). Granted, I have not finished the book, but I have been obsessively reading reviews and blog posts about the book, of which there are MANY, so clearly I am not the only one intrigued, which is even more compelling. The crazy thing is to see so many people coming from different angles about the book. Some think it’s a mockery, others a philosophical treatise. Who are you, Ms. Heti? Miranda July, her buddy and fellow artiste, writes on the cover, “A book that risks everything.” What does that mean? Risk….what? Risk…why? I am just so confused! And I really want to know.
So I am going to invite Ms. Heti to answer some questions once I am done with the book, but in the meantime, I wanted to see what some other readers thought. I recently ran into my old friend Aynsley Vandenbroucke, a very cool dancer, choreographer, co-director or Mount Tremper Arts, and a professor at Princeton. I know her from our early days at Zen Mountain Monastery. I have always loved her and her work, and then a couple years ago at the MTA festival she presented a nascent piece based on a conversation she and another dancer had via email and I was intrigued. When I read Ms. Heti’s book I thought of Aynsely. So when I ran into her I asked her if she would like to read this book with me and she agreed. So here we go.
Do you think Ms. Heti is a sarcastic boob or heartbreakingly honest? Both? None of the above? The wrong question entirely?