As I was saying, my Shadow Giller reviews will appear in a slightly different format: first, In Short, a 300-word and spoiler-free summary, intended to have a broad appeal, and, next, In Detail, which will expound upon one aspect of the book which I found remarkable (but which might be of interest only to those who have already read the book or those with an interest in the mechanics of writing).
Sheila Heti describes feeling as though she was tricked by writing this book: “It made me write it and write it for years – the answer like something I could almost reach –tantalizingly there – the promise of an answer just around the corner – maybe in the next day’s writing.”
If readers expected to find, in Motherhood, a character contemplating the decision to become a parent, they might consider themselves tricked too: there is as much of Sheila Heti in this novel as there was in How Should A Person Be? and Motherhood? would have been more accurate.
But readers who plan to read Heti probably are not expecting a shaped and polished narrative (or, if they are, that expectation will be dashed in a couple of pages). No beginning-middle-end here: this is all middle. As Heti describes it, she is in the afternoon of her life, and this is the time for writing: the “time for children is breakfast”.