I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Frankly, I’m just glad I’ve finished another book. This one suffered from a similar problem as Candyfreak, I’m afraid. Crosley’s voice reminded me very much of Sarah Vowell’s, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like her. I don’t know if she’s just too hip for her own good or maybe the fact that I suspect she’s not as much like me as she’d like me to think, but whatever it is, I think there’s definitely a hint of smugness about her voice that bothered me. Not enough to make me put the book down, but sort of like having a small pebble in your shoe – you can live with it, but it feels so much better once you’ve gotten rid of it.
I sort of felt like her essays didn’t really have a point to any of them. Quite a few of them had that ‘My point, let me show you it’ feeling towards the end of them. The sudden slowing of the pace, the more introspective thoughts, the serious twist at the end of an anecdotal (but still not really funny) story. And yet I don’t really feel like she had anything to tell me. I don’t think I took anything away with me and, maybe I’m just not as intelligent as I like to think I am, I don’t think she showed us anything honest about herself. Maybe she thought she did – certainly many of the essays ended on sort of – not really poignant but I can’t think of the right word, so think of poignant as though it were used by Fenimore Cooper (holla, Twainies!) – notes that I think were supposed to be giving us glimpses into her crazy-but-aren’t-we-all-in-our-own-way psyche. And they just didn’t feel sincere. They felt like the hipster version of what she thought she should be sharing with us.
Also, for a book shelved in the humor section, it was not all that funny (as Publisher’s Weekly also led me to believe it would be). I was expecting laugh-outloud funny, but what I got was, again, much more in the Sarah Vowell vein (though not as likable). Also, I think one of the blurbs on the back of the book put me off a bit. Someone called A.M. Homes (I also think she’s too hip for her own good because I don’t know any of the names on the back of the book – well, Jonathan Lethem’s, but his is on the front of the book) compares her to a postmodern Mary Tyler Moore, but I don’t think that’s what he (she?) means. I think A.M. Homes meant to compare Crosley to a postmodern Mary Richards. That’s a comparison I can see (although, again, still not as likable), but Mary Tyler Moore? Not so much.
I was about to type that, although I wasn’t thrilled with this, Crosley’s first book, I would give her a second chance, but now that I think about it, I’m not so sure I would. It might all come down to her blurbs. We’ll see.
My rating: C-