I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Essays by Sloane Crosley
To be honest, I bought this book based on the title. Yes, I’m one of those people, those people who browse through Borders and pick books based on the covers. I particularly like the smooth paperbacks. I’m a sucker for bright colors.
To save a little face, I did read one of the essays before I actually bought the book. I also read the back cover and the reviews. The claim is that if one likes David Sedaris (Me talk Pretty One Day), one will enjoy Crosley’s book. Also, the back mentions that she wrote the cover essay for the worst selling edition of Maxim magazine. Sounds like my kind of woman.
Sloan Crosley writes from the perspective of twenty-something, potential intellectual who’s striving to be meaningful in New York City. What’s refreshing about her is that she knows she’s full of crap. She writes about herself with an honesty that has to be difficult to maintain.
Crosley writes about her idyllic upbringing in Westchester, New York, struggling to find her place after graduation, and navigating through the uncomfortable and odd experiences all young women of a certain age endure: the weddings of people you don’t really like anymore.
One of the memorable essays is “You on a Stick”, which tells the story of a random friend from Crosley’s past who asks her to be a part of her wedding. Eventually, the author is promoted to Maid of Honor, without her prior approval incidentally. Crosley agrees to be a part of the wedding mostly based on guilt. The reader has the impression that she is just a bit curious about how this will all turn out, sort of like the over-used car wreck analogy.
Like anything in life that one assumes will be simple, the wedding turns into a big, expensive pain in the bum. To be truthful, this particular essay waxes on quite a bit, but there are little gems in there: Crosley being drafted into making the ribbon hat at the wedding shower, her abdicating her Maid of Honor duty of giving the toast to an ex-gymnast with a lisp who ends up fainting. All good stuff.
Crosley shares other little tidbits with readers, like her collection of ponies from ex-boyfriends. This essay begins the book and confirmed for me that I’d actually want to keep reading. She confesses that she ends up getting rid of the ponies because she’s afraid of how people will judge her for them when she dies. While I don’t have a collection of ponies, I can identify with covering up peccadilloes simply because of the fear of possible humiliation.
There are a couple essays that Crosley could have left out: “Lay Like Broccoli” explains why the author is vegetarian. It’s not particularly funny or interesting. This could just be my bias talking; maybe choosing vegetarianism for some people is interesting, but I’m not enthralled.
For the most part, I enjoyed reading Crosely’s first collection of essays. She comes across as likeable and more importantly, human. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, and she doesn’t seem to expect readers to either. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.