Sheila Heti joins Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher to speak about her latest novel, Pure Colour. A mythical and tender telling of the life of a woman named Mira, Pure Colour imagines our present day as taking place in the first stages of God’s creation. The world as we know it is but God’s first draft, and the complaints of human beings about its difficulties are being logged by him as input for his second. In this first draft world, people come in three categories: birds, fish, and bears. Mira is a bird — she relates to the world aesthetically and studies writing and criticism — while the woman that beguiles her, Annie, is a fish — a pragmatist who believes in justice for all of humanity. Mira’s father, meanwhile, is a bear, devoted most to the people he loves. When he dies early in the novel, questions of how to reconcile these different positions, how and at what distance to love someone, and how much to let go of that love, take the fore, as do other deeply philosophical inquiries about time, the future, art, and the universe as we know it.
Also, Francesco Pacifico, author of The Women I Love, drops by to give a glowing recommendation for Gertrude Stein’s classic The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.
When artists get together, conversation flows! Antics, disco, cocktails and more in this week’s celebration of our upcoming Yaddo Artist Reunion. Three fantastic writers who met at Yaddo discuss how peers influence each other: Lauren Groff, the bestselling author of six books of fiction, including Fates and Furies, Florida and her latest, Matrix; the ever-brilliant Sheila Heti, author of the novels Motherhood, How Should a Person Be and her forthcoming book, Pure Colour; and Sarah Manguso, the luminous author of eight books, including her upcoming novel, Very Cold People. Contributing artists: Joseph Keckler, Destiny’s Child (“Independent Women,” the Charles J Remix). Special thanks to Glenfiddich for sponsoring our Yaddo Artist Reunion.
We're still alive! And at the incessant nagging of the Our Struggle Office of Diversity and Inclusion, joined by Canadian woman writer Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be?, Motherhood, and the newly out PURE COLOUR (note the canadian spelling). This was a great episode - we didn't talk about Knausgaard so much (although Sheila had a good story about hanging with the man at an Australian continental breakfast), or even Craft (although there was some craft chat), but you all know the drill by now -- the pleasure is in the digression etc. Thanks so much to our new friend Sheila for coming on the show! Look forward to hanging in Toronto soon with Margaret, Alice and the whole gang<3
0:00 - What have L&D been up to during the hiatus? Drew almost died of food poisoning in Israel and Lauren got in trouble with the P*rk Sl*pe F*od C*op
6:58 - Sheila comes on the line and tells us about getting locked out of her friend Margaux's studio, her 140-pound Rottweiler called Feldman, and her experimental theater adolescence
32:38 - Lauren and Sheila discuss a devastating book Sheila recently wrote about in NYRB, the Swedish author Lena Andersson's WILLFUL DISREGARD, which is full of wise aphorisms about love and human behavior. This leads to a discussion of aphoristic writing, about which Lauren has recently come to have a bee in her bonnet. How can we know aphorisms we write are not complete bullshit? Lauren wants to know, and Sheila and Drew reasonably point out that readers are not expecting authors to have access to a universal truth. But we get into a interesting convo about if it's possible to deceive yourself in writing and also get into the brilliant and (to Lauren) frustrating psychoanalytic writer Adam Phillips, whose book MISSING OUT Sheila recommends.
58:15 - A comment about a (fanciful) description of a certain literary critic friend of the pod's scrotum in PURE COLOUR leads into a passionate discussion of male circumcision, a topic about which Sheila has lately been having complicated feelings.
1:17:36 - Drew, Sheila and Lauren have a very Jewish discussion of their formative encounters with Woody Allen films and Sheila reveals that she was almost named Woody Allen Heti.
1:42:43 - [DISCOURSE ALERT] Sheila bravely reveal a PRO-ROONEY stance
Thanks so much again to Sheila !!
As always, you can keep Lauren from starving by buying a mug at ourstruggle.store.
And reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
As they (are legally obligated) say in Montreal: A bientot!--- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/ourstrugglepod/message
Sheila Heti on her selection:
I chose a chapter from Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, which he wrote between 1934 and 1941. It is one of the most fascinating and vivid descriptions I have ever read—not only of what Victorian manners and morals were like, but what it feels like to have lived through history, in particular the great political and social upheavals that occurred between his birth in Vienna in 1881 and his death in 1942. He gave his publisher the typewritten manuscript of this memoir the day before he and his wife died, by suicide. Zwieg grew up in a prosperous Jewish family, and this is the world he is writing about. I found in these pages one of the greatest and most fascinating and sensitive eyewitness accounts of history I have ever read. I love the details. I love the feeling that I am seeing the truth about another world with such intimacy. This chapter has stayed with me since I first encountered it years ago. I am at about the age he was when he wrote it, and though I don’t think the changes I have witnessed have been as dramatic, I feel I know what it’s like to remember a lost world, and to set now against then and to weigh all of it up.
The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig
Music: "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0
My guest today is the brilliant Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood and How Should a Person Be? In this episode we discuss her latest book Pure Colour, a new novel l about art, love, loss and time. It has been described as a galaxy of a novel: explosive, bright, huge and streaked with beauty. Sheila Heti has also been described as philosopher of modern experience - and I really enjoyed this conversation. Motherhood, her novel which grapples with the question of whether or not to have kids was a huge inspiration on me - and I think Sheila is one of the most talented artists of our time. Enjoy this conversation, I loved it and was on cloud nine after recording!My Substack! https://thehyphen.substack.com/Sheila Heti's Pure Colour: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/153/9781787302808Sheila Heti's books: https://uk.bookshop.org/contributors/sheila-hetiMy books: https://uk.bookshop.org/contributors/emma-gannonBooks Mentioned On Ctrl Alt Delete Podcast: https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/books-mentioned-on-ctrl-alt-delete-podcastTwitter: Twitter.com/emmagannonInstagram: Instagram.com/emmagannonuk
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