Loved and reviled

The jacket copy for the paperback of Sheila Heti’s novel How Should A Person Be? starts, in large bold type:

By turns loved and reviled upon its U.S. publication…

That’s pretty bold jacket copy writing, to come right out and say that the book you’re considering buying was reviled!

In fact, it was very good.  One thing I like about it is the way that the title seems to leave room for an invisible adjective which shifts the sense of “How,” i.e.

How ______ should a person be?

where the implicit word in the blank space shifts around a lot as the novel progresses.


3 thoughts on “Loved and reviled

  1. NDE says:

    Is “How ____ should X be” really the same kind of question as “How should X be”? The latter (though grammatically related to “How are you?”) feels like it’s asking ask “How should X behave” or “What should X be like?”, while the former is “To what extent should X be ____?”.

    Reviled was I ere I saw Deliver? (No, I know nothing about that 1983 album beyond having just observed the existence of its Wikipedia page)

  2. Artie Prendergast-Smith says:

    A bit tangentially, this reminds me of my favourite book blurb (printed on the inside cover), for The Adventures of Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth:

    “The colours are dreadful, it’s like looking at a bottle of Domestos or Harpic or Ajax. Awful bleak colours, revolting to look at; it’s on its way to the Oxfam shop. Disgusting look to it. Really horrible.” — Tom Paulin

  3. nnyhav says:

    So, how loved and reviled should a person be?

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