Cover of Pure Color

Pure Color

A Novel

Sheila Heti

If you would like to read something unlike anything you have ever read, Pure Color is an excellent choice. Your expectations are likely to be confounded, even if they derive from Heti’s earlier works, as this isn’t the high-wire act of self-scrutiny that made How Should a Person Be and Motherhood so celebrated. Whether you will like what you find is harder to say, but I certainly did.\n\nFrom one of its brief chapters to the next, his book can feel like a modern-day fable, like an autofictional foray into magical realism, or like a transparent vehicle for smuggling philosophy and aesthetics into the Fiction section. Mostly, though, it feels like having a conversation with someone you slowly realize is an absolute kook. This is a good thing! It’s the kooks who end up with all the out-there ideas that start our movements, change our paradigms and shake up our world views. And boy does the cosmology of protagonist Mira fit the bill. Mira is on her way to being art critic who gets hung up on an unrequited love and waylaid by the death of her father. Some of the book’s dominant conceits, like that we are living in the first draft of the world during the moments where God is on the verge of ripping it up for the second, and that everyone is either a bird, a fish or a bear (a sort of faux-naive myers-briggs diagnostic for a world in which the supreme being is a sort of critic) scaffold a unique conception of the world which undergirds the story. The account of Mira’s life often reads someone channeling the cosmic assurance of a lost pre-socratic philosopher into a spiritual text for children. \n\nHeti takes weird, simultaneous stabs at the ineffable and mundane and again reaffirms herself as a writer unafraid to go into new places that surprise me and make me think. I didn’t know about this book until I heard Heti talking about it on the Between the Covers Podcast (which, if you don’t know about it, is just something you’re going to need to really check out).

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“A short epic novel about art, grief, and love by Sheila Heti, the author of Motherhood and How Should A Person Be?”– (Publisher’s Description)

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