Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ticknor” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  32 reviews
On a cold, rainy night, an aging bachelor named George Ticknor prepares to visit his childhood friend Prescott, a successful man who is now one of the leading intellectual lights of their generation. With a hastily baked pie in his hands, and a lifetime of guilt and insecurity weighing upon his soul, he sets out for the Prescotts' dinner party--a party at which he'd just a ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published March 20th 2007 by Picador (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ticknor, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ticknor

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 532)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ursula Pflug
This review appeared in The Peterborough Examiner in December, 2005.

by Sheila Heti
House Of Anansi Press
April 2005 HC
112 pages
ISBN: 0-88784-191-0

Review by Ursula Pflug

515 words

Ticknor is Toronto writer Sheila Heti’s first novel. Her previous book, also published by Anansi, was a collection of confounding, quirky, clever short stories about, among other things–an old woman who lived in a shoe. And since rewritten fairy tales or in this case nursery rhymes written for the adu
Michael Vagnetti
What happens, in biography, when people become word-people? I experienced Ticknor as an exhibit-puzzle, or documentary sculpture, about this question. The book is on to this meta-dynamic in a cunning way. The oracle-sage is speaker who is stumbling with neurosis, unconfident, and of existentially cloudy presence. He is cognitively "wrong" in term of literary makeup, choices, and "quality", but his timid anthems are extraordinarily interesting. Why? They coagulate into an extended, oblique riddle ...more
Favourite Character: N/A

Least Favourite Character: N/A

*There were some real stand out lines in this book. I was moved to re-read a few sections of prose two or three times because of how striking they were.

*I really didn't like the creative element of this book; was it a conversation? Sometimes there would be a sentence or two from a different speaker, but it would not be differentiated in any way in the long blocks of text. It was just difficult to get a reading flow going. I kept bei
It took me a long time to work out who the ‘you’ was in this novel. It’s the narrator addressing himself. Since much of the ensuing monologue—since that’s what it turns out to be (the whole thing takes place inside the narrator’s head)—relates to letter writing I did wonder whether the book was actually a letter but it seems not. Rather it is a stream of conscious narrative in which Ticknor—who was a real person, a nineteenth century historian—talks about his lifelong friendship with a certain W ...more
William Hickling Prescott, the author of such insanely popular nineteenth-century titles as The History of the Conquest of Mexico (1843), was mostly blind--the unfortunate result of being hit in the eye with a biscuit while he was attending boarding school. In Ticknor, Sheila Heti offers a fictionalized account of Prescott's life that is told from the perspective of his friend and intellectual contemporary, George Ticknor. In a note at the end of the book, Heti acknowledges that Ticknor was, in ...more
“Ticknor,” a novella by Sheila Heti, is inspired by an actual 19th Century biography of William Hickling Prescott by George Ticknor. It is the internal dialogue of protagonist Ticknor, who endlessly compares himself to his successful, socially adroit, and much loved friend Prescott. By comparison, Ticknor is anxious, indecisive, socially awkward, self-absorbed, jealous, and envious. In short, he is not very likable.

Summaries and reviews of the novella suggest Prescott is self-absorbed and even
Melanie Page
Two stars look really "bad," but the Goodreads definition is "it was okay." That's really how I felt about Ticknor. It took me many, many, many tries over several years to get into this book because my brain kept puzzling out "you" vs. "I." Turns out it's basically the same person, only when "you" is addressed, it comes from a voice of criticism, or perhaps a more honest side of the narrator. However, these changes aren't noted with italics or set off in any way. You just have to catch them, and ...more
“I knew I was not as important as Claire, so returning after the funeral I just stood around, wanting to let him know I was there — standing there with everyone else rushing about. I am not good at those sorts of arrangements, pouring drinks or holding out a hand to a woman to help her from her chair; even sitting in the corner of the parlour with the men, smoking and talking in appropriate ways. I had nothing to say in the appropriate ways. I could not help out because I no longer knew the hous ...more
Perez Malone
Ticknor is going to a party at an old friend's house, but so much goes wrong. He leaves late, the pie is ruined, he misses the streetcar, the advertisements are overwhelming. Most of all, at some point in their pasts, his life and Prescott's (his old friend) life diverged. Now, with his humiliation looming all he can do is catalogue this divergence, obsessing over how it was that Prescott was such a success, and Ticknor nor such a failure.

This is a slim novel that is written in the first person,
I liked this book. It was very funny - tongue in cheek. Only thing sometimes I felt I was being hit over the head with the same information over again. But it fits the characters in the real story. If you want to study people who think the same thoughts in circles this is the book for you. If you are looking for an intervention for people who definitely need it, then I would skip this. It would be very sad if it were not so funny. But then again what is obvious to an outsider confounds the peopl ...more
Ticknor is going to a party at an old friend's house, but so much goes wrong. He leaves late, the pie is ruined, he misses the streetcar, the advertisements are overwhelming. Most of all, at some point in their pasts, his life and Prescott's (his old friend) life diverged. Now, with his humiliation looming all he can do is catalogue this divergence, obsessing over how it was that Prescott was such a success, and Ticknor nor such a failure.

This is a slim novel that is written in the first person,
Jacob Yang
My brother came me a book of Sheila Heti's short stories which I enjoyed. This slim novel is a throughly enjoyable exploration of one man's self- absorbed, petty and mildly resentful mind. Heti's ability to capture the inner monologue that many of us deliver in our heads, around social anxieties and self perception was impressive.
You have to be in the right mood for this one, that's for sure. When I first started it, was in the wrong mood, and couldn't manage more than a few pages of Heti's gauntlet-throwing variable second-person subjects (sometimes "you" for the narrator himself, talking to himself, sometimes "you" for the narrator speaking in his mind to the not-present subject of his obsession, Prescott).

Anyway, took it up again, started from beginning, was in the right mood somehow, and loved it. Loved. Ticknor is
Natalie Hamilton
A meditation on friendship and envy. The internal "dialogue" cleverly reveals the lies we tell ourselves in constructing narratives of our past and of our feelings. Good read.
This book was mentally exhausting. It was like reading a copycat script of the movie "Groundhog Day." I don't think I really "got it" until I was about three fourths of the way through, and even then, probably only because I had taken in so many reviews and synopses before reading. I do like the style, but reading basically the same thing over and over gets a bit tiresome, especially when the over and over does nothing to build suspense or interest on the narrative. I did come away thinking that ...more
A beautiful but almost grotesquely uncomfortable read, much like encountering myself on one of my more honest days, and Heti's Ticknor is no less despicable.
To call this misanthropic little monologue "delightful" might be a stretch, but Heti so convincingly channels Thomas Bernhard that I can find no other word to describe this. A remarkable ventriloquism act, densely packed into a mere 110 pages.

Belongs in the class of works that includes Millhauser's Edwin Mullhouse and the aforementioned Bernhard's The Loser.
I think I read about half of this. I love how small the scope of this novel is. It reminded me of Notes Fron Underground, The Mezzanine, maybe Transparent Things.... At the moment it didn't capture me, though. I'm very willing to consider the possibility that I just wasn't in the right mood for it. I should give it another try.
Zoe Rider
Was just not my thing, apparently. It's so short, and this became my refrain as I tried to get through it: "It's so short! It'll be over in no time. Oh my god, I still have 72 pages to go." I ended up skipping to the end. It's likely I was just not the right sort of person to appreciate it.
Zoe Prichard
I found almost nothing in this book that tickled my fancy- I thought the main character morose and full of envy and the book in general difficult to follow. It felt like the author had made a conscious effort to create a 'literary' work which took all the enjoyment out of it for me.
Rebecca H.
I like the concept of this novel -- its stream of consciousness and exploration of envy and resentment, plus its lack of interest in traditional narrative -- but ultimately it never came alive for me. I wanted to get caught up in the narrator's voice, but I always felt too distanced.
Jim Hahn
Besides having a fake lecture series, Heti wrote an interview appearing in last months Believer, wherein she stated it was problematic for her to write about fake people saying fake things-I'm probably mis-paraphrasing, but that is how I read it, which made me want to read her fiction.
Patty Cottrell
one of my favorite books. you can read it in an afternoon. there are some unforgettable lines. i had three of them in my head for a year without realizing where they were from: TICKNOR. the writing is crisp and elegant: TICKNOR. i loved the sad & pathetic narrator: TICKNOR.

I reviewed this as a staff writer for my then-magazine quite a few years ago. Sniff.

Check it out here (it's actually one of my better pieces, I think, I'm very proud of it. It took a really long time to write, going minimal)-
It is interesting to read and evaluate this book as an exercise in writing. But purely as a reader wanting to enjoy a story, I did not like the book. It was exhausting.
This is a decidedly quirky tale of personal and professional competition and obsession, likely all in the fevered brain of the protagonist.
A great little book that really exploits the first-person lens, both in voice and perspective. She's too young to write this good!
hilarious. a furthering of my former obsession with the 19th century boston intellectual goings on.
It's hard to get through the first time, but Sheila Heti writes in a most unique voice
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Twenty-Six
  • The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
  • Notes on a Life
  • Soucouyant
  • Simple Recipes
  • Begin Again: Collected Poems
  • Finnie Walsh
  • Shuck
  • The Angel Riots
  • The Ash Garden
  • Sitting Practice: A Novel
  • The Architects Are Here
  • The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend
  • The Boys in the Trees
  • Nellcott Is My Darling
  • The Incident Report
  • Blood Sports
  • Effigy
Sheila Heti is the author of five books; three books of fiction, a children's book, and a work of non-fiction with Misha Glouberman. She is Interviews Editor at The Believer and is known for her long interviews. She lives in Toronto.
More about Sheila Heti...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »