Monday, June 14, 2010

Sloane Crosley, of whom I'm just another humble fan (and not a reader of a comped ARC) has a new book of humorous essays out. (And yes, the New Yorker in their "20 under 40 to watch" thing ignored her. I imagine if this regime of the esteemed lit/culture mag were around in an earlier day they would have given the high hat to the likes of S.J. Perelman and Dorothy Parker too. Whatever; mysterious are the ways, etc. I'm sure it's nothing to get worked up about.) Anyway, I recommend Ms. Crosley's new collection How Did You Get This Number because of the funny within. But you may be wondering what sort of writer Sloane Crosley is. Well, I have just the thing for you. And it's called

What Sort Of Writer Is Sloane Crosley?

Where should we put Sloane Crosley in relation to other popular female writers? Well, when one uses Jennifer (In Her Shoes) Weiner as the measure of chick lit (and I don't use that term as a derogatory one, but as an identifier or shorthand for a particular genre of popular writing) and Kathy Acker as the best of the hard as nails-take no prisoners-don't give me any crap riot grrrl style of writing we can see SC floating right in the middle of the two, as if safely encased in Glenda's bubblemobile above the yellow brick road.

You know, SC could write about Tupperware, an old wheeze topic that was used up when Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron were still churning out the "did you ever actually look at all this middle class crap" copy, and she could make it wry and funny anew. Whereas Weiner's consideration of the miracle plastic container would just be the launching pad for her musings on the corsage her heroine has preserved in it for ten years; ever since a supposed Mr. Right took her to the prom and disappeared forever in a way that has made her so mad that when he turns up a decade later -- freshly spurned himself -- she just has to go out and do what it takes to become more beautiful than any woman you have ever seen in your entire life to torture the hapless fellow! SC would merely dedicate half a pithy paragraph to the character and then it would only be to mention how he shuffles off with the prom queen who never made it out of town and now serves drinks at the Froot And Toot, a smoothie drive thru joint.

Acker would find red ice in her plastic container, which surprises her when it turns up in her freezer behind bottles of vodka and frozen government welfare cheese. She wonders if it's sauce or the results of a recent bloodletting that happened when her Pagan party got a little out of hand. Then she would take 100 pages to find out who it belongs to and ultimately find it is a combo of her and "another" (gender not stipulated) and with whom she will ultimately partner, though neither of them really have the slightest idea how that stuff got there. (*)

A lot closer to SC, who, remember is still defying gravity in the middle of things, is Curtis (The Man Of My Dreams) Sittenfeld, whose style is close to SC's though not as edgy and perhaps a tad too earnest for some. A blind date gone wrong with Sittenfeld (I think this is an apt comparison, because if you buy a writer's book you are sort of taking a chance akin to the blind dater) might net you a business card with the name of a therapist "who could possibly do you some good" and a followup call to see how your first session went. SC, who, aside from being, as I say, edgy (but not in the least strident or weird!), is jaded enough to know that the date just didn't work out and realistically (for SC is a realist -- hey, it's New York, people!) admits that half the blame is hers. She would just be honest and tell you you're nice "but just wrong" and leave it at that. Same basic message from both, one is just delivered without strings and in good humor. And so also, the writing.

OK, kids, that's it. School's out! Play nice!

*(If Sloane Crosley found a Tupperware container full of blood in her freezer? She'd inconspicuously dispose of it and that would be that. There are much funnier -- and more meaningful -- things to write about, after all.)

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