Here’s how one of the narrator’s friends puts the argument: “True improv is about surprising yourself — but most people won’t improvise truthfully. They’re afraid. What they do is pull from their bag of tricks. They take what they already know how to do and apply it to the present situation. But that’s cheating! And cheating’s bad for an artist. It’s bad in life — but it’s really bad in art.” Heti never cheats — not once — and that’s how a great novelist should be.