Sheila Heti hardly endears herself to me in her Open Book Toronto interview with Nathaniel G. Moore by suggesting, essentially, that all novelists save her are peddling boring, unreadable crap. But when not giving full rein to the most pretentious impulses of her overdeveloped ego,* she manages to redeem herself with this:
I overheard a conversation on the bus yesterday between two men in their late thirties; working-class men talking about women. One man, clearly in love with his girlfriend, asked the other man, who also was newly in a relationship, “Are you going to move in together?” He was really eager and excited to know. The second man said, “No no, I like to take it slow.” The first man, almost sounding humiliated and contrite and as if putting on an act, agreed, “Cheryl and I are taking it slow too, you can’t move in too soon. Life is short, and you can’t take it so seriously — especially when it comes to women.” But it was so clear that this man was a romantic and wanted to move in with his girl and take it all very seriously. That kind of romantic, hopeful tenderness — where can men find models for that in this culture?
That recalls Russell Smith’s assertion that men are the true romantics, that women are far more cold-blooded and pragmatic about their relationships. Which suggests, I think, that men don’t actually need models for that. I agree with Smith on this point; I think it’s how men are, notwithstanding our culture’s demand that we pretend otherwise.
* In case you’re wondering, I’ve decided to abandon my recent attempts to be nice to people.