A few years ago, a book of humorous essays got a large amount of positive buzz. It was called I Was Told There’d Be Cake. Titles just don’t get much better than that. It also had a fantastic cover. Those three forces combined into one irresistible book, and I immediately bought it, read it, and loved it. Sloane Crosley was also a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor for that collection. I think it was over a year ago that I first heard Sloane Crosley had a second collection in the works, and that news made me incredibly happy.
I’m delighted to report that the new collection, How Did You Get This Number, does not disappoint. It even soars a bit higher in some moments. Not every essay is fantastic, but all are enjoyable. The last two essays are particularly wonderful, about a trip to Paris and a difficult break-up. Good memoirs & essay collections make you feel like the author is an old friend. Even better ones are when you recognize pieces of yourself, especially the silly pieces. For me, Sloane Crosley accomplished both.
I might recommend starting with the first collection, but this collection stands well on its own. I’m also always partial to the order I read things in, probably because I can’t imagine reading them in any other order. :)
One last note: one essay in the collection brings up the classic girl’s slumber party game of the 80s/90s, Girl Talk. I had forgotten all about this amazing/disturbing game. Raise your hand if you remember having to stick a red “zit” sticker on your face or finding out that you were going to have 9 kids because you were born in the month of September.
A few favorite passages:
There’s no way to convince someone that a doll-head chandelier is tasteful. But this one was. (page 64)
“Is that like cartography?” I asked, wondering if there was a use for such a thing anymore. I was under the impression that the world was kind of done, that we had accepted its parameters and moved on. Like ashtrays. Or ketchup. Or bricks. These things were about as good as they were going to get. (page 155)