Monday, August 10, 2009

I Was Told There'd Be Cake

I just finished Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd be Cake, a book of essays of her "coming of age" in Manhattan. Essay compilations can be hit or miss. You have authors who consistently knock your socks off (Sedaris) and others who don't. I'd say Crosley falls in between somewhere. I wasn't too entertained by a few essays, but others made me smile and nod in agreement. [Added 8-12-09: Crosley has been nominated for the Thurber Prize for American Humor - congrats!]

After I read the book, I listened to a Barnes & Noble podcast that interviewed the author. Listening to her speak about her work, it made me appreciate it more. The book actually stemmed from an e-mail. Crosley decided to compose a humorous e-mail on her adventure in moving from one Manhattan apartment to the other, basically just a rant about her experience with lots and lots of detail. A friend at the Village Voice saw some potential in it, had her add an introduction and, bam, she’s writing for them.

She said the book is about “dashed expectations,” which makes perfect sense and is completely relatable (how often do you expect something, anything in life to be awesome and it turns out not to be?). For example, she was disappointed by her first apartment, her first volunteer job, her first real job, her first bridesmaid experience, her first non-one-night stand. That’s what these stories are really about and once I heard that, more of them became relevant to me and I understood the book a bit more – and found I liked it more than I thought.

I also liked that she didn’t focus on what a lot of female writers focus on: dating. She had maybe two references to dating/sex in the book, but otherwise, she said she purposely tried to sidestep that stuff. While dating mishaps are funny, too, sometimes it's nice to read about other things, like turning 16 or moving to Australia. In the interview she says, “You just jump into it and hope your weirdest, more bizarre experiences someone can relate to.” Overall, more hits than misses in this book.

1 comment:

CMS said...

It sounds very entertaining!