Sloane Crosley on Heartbreak, Nonfiction, and Feminism
Sloane Crosley wrote the cover story for the worst-selling issue of Maxim in its history. And anyone who fails at that lad rag scores with us. A former book publicist, the essayist and humorist has been called a modern-day Dorothy Parker by writer Jonathan Ames for quips such as "Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there." That's from I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Crosley's first book of essays. This wry, self-deprecating look at a woman's quarter-life crisis is rumored to be in development as an HBO pilot.
But lest you think the 32-year-old is just some budding Nora Ephron with a rom-com ax to grind, consider her latest, How Did You Get This Number. The sophomore collection includes tales of bear cub executions, Bowery brothels, and hard-drinking clowns in Lisbon. The New York Times best-selling author will read from her latest at Books & Books this Thursday. We spoke with Crosley about how much she's willing to share from her personal life and what strange tchotchkes she keeps close by.
New Times: When did you feel like you were a writer? Did you have an "aha!" moment when you said, "I'm a writer"?
Sloane Crosley: I am still anxiously awaiting that moment. That's not
false modesty, that's just the nature of the beast I think. You have to
constantly question yourself and what you're doing and just hope it
leads you to a place of being creative and not paralyzed.
The world has gone blog-crazy. How does this affect the market for essayists?
It's so funny, we're not the first culture or generation to be obsessed
with short format writing. The Japanese had that market cornered a
couple of centuries ago. I do think it's rare how empowered everyone is
now to share their work. But how can that not be a good thing? The
capacity for said work to touch an audience and an audience's capacity
to be moved by a piece of art hasn't changed.
There are still the same
number of hours in a day. We're all still limited by the same brain
space. So even if you doubled the amount of blogs or websites that
exist at this moment, you'd still have the same amount of people
shifting gears and expanding their personal narratives into essays. I
don't personally feel the effects but I think the "blog craze" has
caused much of the online community to step up its game in the past
Is there any leeway between truth and fiction in your essays? Are you
tempted to exaggerate? (Basically, we're hoping no one actually shit on
your bathroom floor and that a bear cub wasn't shot in the head point
Rut-roh. Sorry to disappoint, but both of those things very much
happened. I would say that there's leeway in the description and that
the shit was more modestly sized than what I wrote and the bear cub
situation was actually worse. 9 times out of 10 people assume the most
outlandish stories or details are either exaggerated or just plain
false. But it's always the minor details -- who wore what when, the
exact dialogue, etc. -- that are the most fudged for the sake of telling
"Off the Back of a Truck," which chronicles a failed relationship, really
resonated with readers. Has this response made you reconsider including
more dispatches from your love life in future essays?
That essay is actually about two (well, 1.5) people, which is its own
brand of humiliating to admit. Because that means you're dealing with
two heartbreaks, two rejections. I was extremely hesitant to write it
and while I'm quite proud of it now I still retain my original stance on
writing about relationships in this naked, heart wrenching way. That
stance went something like "get in, spill all the blood and guts, get
out and never go there again."
Tina Fey (allegedly) has a nude portrait of Blaze Starr in her office. What surprising thing do you keep close by?
I have a taxidermied baby chicken in a bell jar. His name is Horatio. I also have a set of china nun figurines.
In "Smell This," Trevor calls you a feminist and you respond by calling
him "fuckface." Do you consider yourself a feminist? Or do we need a new
That's an easy question followed by one whose answer could fill a
library but I'll keep both brief. So "yes" to the first -- I believe in
the equality of men and women. As for the second, I don't think we
need a new label, no. There's nothing wrong with the label. I do think a
lot of things that aren't really about feminism get lumped into
"feminist" so that gets confusing and leads to some terrible
stereotypes. Apologies, I hate the word "things" but sometimes it's the
best way to encompass a mud flap, a pushup bra and the sexual politics
of, say, India in one word.
You've been compared to Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, Carrie Bradshaw,
and David Sedaris. Can you rank those comparisons in order from awesome
to less awesome?
I can barely rank them alphabetically, forget apply numbers to them. I'm not that bright.
In "Off the Back of a Truck," your upholstery hook-up, Daryl, claims he
likes South Beach. What are your impressions of South Beach and Miami?
I am a Miami fan. The first time I spent any time here as an adult, it
was for a press junket for a speedboat company and it was so hilariously
excessive. I had a college friend who was living here at the time who
then took me around before some fancy beachside dinner and showed me
some off-the-beaten-path Miami -- which I define as dive bars and rare
birds. I loved the contrast. And the food.
I will also say that the pool
at The Raleigh has to be one of my favorite places in the world. I've
been there when it's crowded at Art Basel and The Miami Bookfair and
when there's maybe one other person there and I just love it.
Sloane Crosley reads at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) this Thursday at 8 pm. The reading is free. Call 305-442-4408 or visit booksandbooks.com.
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