Conclusion: Sheila Heti offers a story tense by the surrealist
A world determined by death and desire animates “Pure Colour” by Sheila Heti. Intertwined with storytelling, theory, and critique, Heti’s latest novel, caught between the fate of the human spirit and the origin of the universe, drifts through worship and creation.
Three different animal spirits are introduced at the start: the bird, the fish and the bear. People born of each possess a lens that prevents them from fully seeing eye to eye. Heti is interested in how these entities channel the critical forces of judgment, and as God manifests as the three, the Earth heats up for his second draft. This state of the universe subjugated in limbo contextualizes the dizzying scope of the novel, its history vanished by the imminent outline of the world to come.
The third-person narrator follows the protagonist Mira, mostly from her mind’s eye as she wanders through her job in a lamp store, her studies in art criticism, her father’s death and downfall. in love, each event leading to an introspection on the inner self. The small action of the novel conveys the solipsism of modern friendship, the intangibility of romance, the pretensions of the mind and twisted filial love. The thinking exercises take precedence over the plot.
Digressions of staging and tone structure the nine parts of the course. These changes give the work a ruminative diary-entry quality that wanders with little direction: Mira resting her tear-stained cheek against her roommate’s dog while crying her father finds the wet fur dripping in the arbitrary value systems; a familiar exchange about a doomed planet follows an interior monologue about the role of nature; and Mira’s transformation into a leaf also contains her father’s spirit. Although representative of Heti’s candor, they represent her search for the ephemeral roots of meaning.
What unites Heti’s writing is the observation of bodies and binaries. She writes: “To be a girl is to be bent halfway. To no longer be a girl is to be a whole, an orb,” capturing the twisted love of being a parent. Later, these dimensions reach the planetary. “We lived suspended in a soup, a depression so narrow and deep that we didn’t even realize we were feeling it. There was a horrible stasis in the air and in our lives. We stopped in the silence of time. It was like being in an airplane that was slowly spinning towards the ground. The stark grace of these sentences captures the essence of Heti’s novel like a light in the cliffhangers in the void.
“Pure Color”, by Sheila Heti (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)