Magazine article The Spectator

'Motherhood', by Sheila Heti - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Motherhood', by Sheila Heti - Review

Article excerpt

'I don't think this was something I ever felt', Sheila Heti writes in Motherhood -- 'that my body, my life, belonged to me.'

Heti's narrator is childless, nearing her forties and living with her boyfriend. In semi-diaristic vignettes, she navigates the space of childlessness; the 'sensation of life tapping its foot'. She reckons with the feeling that her body is not fully her own, that it exists to make space for another. The narrator encounters friends and strangers, speaks to psychics and, in regular passages, uses a method of flipping three coins (two or three tails -- no; two or three heads --yes) to find answers. 'I'm projecting onto you, coins, the wisdom of the universe,' the narrator admits. But still she asks, her questions sometimes becoming paragraphs, gently snaking towards a yes or no.

She suffers from PMS. Evenings pass and she is unable to reclaim her own head. She argues with her boyfriend. She has sex, she writes, she intensifies (waves of depression returning), and still the underlying pressure of motherhood remains. To be a mother, to not be a mother. Coins flipping. Later, her PMS lifts when she takes antidepressants. This is in itself a reckoning -- what sort of story has tension, she wonders, that is resolved not by revelation but by drugs? …

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