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How Did You Get This Number Hardcover – June 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

Chuck Klosterman and Sloane Crosley in Conversation

Chuck Klosterman is a New York Times bestselling author and a featured columnist for Esquire, a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and has also written for Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and ESPN..

Chuck Klosterman

Chuck: When this book was originally released, there was a bear on the cover. Now, for the paperback edition, the bear is gone. This prompts a fairly obvious question: What has happened over the last 12 months that's made you racist against bears?

Sloane: First of all, there’s no place for your left-claw Teddy-sympathizing here. That bear knows what it did. Second of all—and this is strictly hypothetical—let’s say that I had a passionate affair with the bear and we were going to move in together and maybe get a puppy or just gut some salmon and be happy…and then he left me for trampy elk. Let’s say that. You might feel pretty bad accusing me of being a bear racist when all I wanted was the honey that was his love. Either way, there is a very subtle hint at the bear’s existence on the paperback cover. You may say: What?! That makes no sense! No wonder that bear (hypothetically) left you! But let me throw this at you: what is the most common expression we have about the behavior of bears in the woods?

Chuck: Though there are (probably) no statistics on this, I would be curious to hear your estimate: Out of every 100 people who buy your book, how many do you think are men? When you meet your male fans, what are they like?

Sloane: While I know that 100 people, at some point, have bought this book, the idea that these fans are casually coming in 100-person clusters tickles me. That would be like taking a random sampling of all the food in my refrigerator right now and determining what percentage of it is healthy. Since all I have in there is a single lime, the answer is: all of it. But yeah, I get what you’re asking. I’d say 20% of them are dudes. Two thirds of that 20% are under the age of 31 and one third is over the age of 33, which means that if you are a 32-year-old man, the chances of you being hit by a bus tomorrow are higher than the chances of you having already read this book. It also means that if you were 32 when the hardcover was released, you may now enjoy it in paperback. As for meeting my male fans, they are pretty much the same as the female ones—smarter and more put-together than I am on the surface, but I don’t think any of us have anything in our refrigerators right now.

Chuck: Before becoming an author, you spent many years as a book publicist. Without giving his or her name (although it would be pretty awesome if you did), what were the specific personality traits of the meanest writer you ever worked with?

Sloane Crosley

Sloane: I hope you’re not worried about your own behavior with your book publicist because I’m pretty sure everyone really likes you. But here are some things I would encourage, should you decide to trade in your current personality for a crap one: writing in all caps about your need for Xanax, agreeing to go on Oprah after your book publicist has sold 1.5 of her unborn children to get you this opportunity and then deciding that no one will take you seriously in academia if you go on “that” show, refusing to hit up tour cities where your hair might frizz, calling your book publicist at 2AM to inquire as to why The New York Times website is down, treating your publicist’s inbox like a garbage disposal for thought gems such as “do you know how much it would cost to change the colors on the Empire State Building to match my book jacket?”

Chuck: If you had married the first man you ever fell in love with, what would your life be like today?

Sloane: I suspect I’d be the only Jew to ever raise reindeer in Finland.

Chuck: What would you classify as the three most important qualities of good writing? What are the three most glaring problems with bad writing?

Sloane: This is a very good question but a very tough one because the list could be infinite or narrow to a simple “I like it/I don’t like it” depending on the day. I know that good writing has to have confidence and some kind of center. Be it moral or just a plot that continues to make sense. That’s more difficult than it looks. In the movies, a character can wear her hair in a ponytail in one shot and then have it down around her shoulders in the next and, if it gets noticed at all, people seem to take a delight in noticing. A mistake like that in writing, people dwell and become annoyed and distracted by their annoyance and storm your editor’s office with torches and pitchforks. Also, good writing has to entertain on some fundamental level. You may be the best tree-describer in 12 counties but if you plop said description in the middle of your action or at the start of it, I’m already sharpening the tines on my pitchfork. As for bad writing? Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, right? It’s hard to pin down. I would say a glaring lack of originality, a lack of effort, or the presence of too much effort.

Chuck: List all the federal and state laws you have consciously broken over the past 10 years.

Sloane: Drinking from an open container on the sidewalk, driving at 92mph in a 50mph zone, importing plants from a foreign country, smoking in front of a building, housing a lesbian albino ferret in Manhattan, presenting false information to a mental institution, bringing a live animal to the movies, pointing out a flasher’s erection in the state of Missouri, removing files from a government office for the night so I could take them home and laugh hysterically at them, jaywalking everywhere.

Thanks, Chuck.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nine thoughtful, unfussy essays by the author of the collection I Was Told There'd Be Cake navigate around illusions of youth in the hope that by young adulthood they'll all add up to happiness. The account of Crosley's footloose adventure to Lisbon on the eve of her 30th birthday starts things off in rollicking fashion in Show Me on the Doll: without proficient language skills, getting hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of Bairro Alto, and panicking in front of the myriad QVC channels offered by her hotel, Crosley recognizes that Lisbon was a place with a painfully disproportionate self-reflection-to-experience ratio. There is the requisite essay about moving to New York and replacing her anorexic-kleptomaniac roommate with a more acceptable living arrangement: in Crosley's case, delineated in Take a Stab at It, she is interviewed by the creepily disembodied current occupier of a famous former brothel on the Bowery, McGurk's Suicide Hall. As well, Crosley delivers witty, syncopated takes on visiting Alaska and Paris, and finding much consolation from a two-timing heartbreak in New York by buying stolen items from her upholstery guy, Daryl, who found them fallen Off the Back of a Truck, as the delightful last selection is titled. These essays are fresh, funny, and eager to be loved. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487590
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sloane Crosley is the author of "I Was Told There'd be Cake," which was a finalist for The Thurber Prize, and "How Did You Get This Number," both New York Times bestsellers. She is the editor of "The Best American Travel Writing 2011," "Up The Down Volcano," and is a frequent contributor to a variety of publications such as The New York Times and GQ. She is included in "The Library of America's 50 Funniest American Writers According to Andy Borowitz." Her first novel, "The Clasp," will be released on October 6, 2015. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I found the majority of this book really boring.
Tiffany A. Harkleroad
Sloane Crosley is one funny woman and her humor is present in every essay/story in the book.
June A. Ramos
I've loved Sloane Crosley since I read her first book, "I Was Told Their'd Be Cake"!
S. Ireland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By EJ on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read about this book in a magazine and thought it would be a nice, relaxing read. It turned out to be that, and terrifically funny to boot.

The book is a collection of essays that include the musings of a twentysomething on life in New York City, travel in and out of the U.S., family pets, and other subjects. The author is quite simply an incredible writer. She manages to be witty, hip, current, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, with just a touch of sweetness thrown in. There are a number of subtle and overt pop-culture references that are hidden like Easter Eggs throughout the text, so I found myself reading a paragraph and having to go back and read it again to get at all the nuances within.

The only minor problem with this book was a few instances where the sentences sort of started to wander off and I got a little lost in her thought process, but this was a small issue in my opinion.

I realize that I am gushing so much in this review that I probably sound like a friend of Ms. Crosley's or a plant of some kind. I'm not, though I can now be counted as a fan. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was just wonderful from start to finish. I'm going to buy her other book immediately!
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany A. Harkleroad VINE VOICE on July 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Sloane is back with more essays telling about her life and adventures. What happens when this city girl goes to Alaska? Why can she never return to France? Why did math class result in a doctor's appointment? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this collection of essays.

Sloane, oh Sloane. I have such a complex relationship with your work. I love love pink puffy heart love your first book. It was witty and honest. This book, well, this book just tries to hard to be as cool as her older sister. And fails miserably.

I found the majority of this book really boring. It is so "New York" that its attempts at sophistication come across as merely pretentiousness. Some of the stories induced a chuckle or two but nothing near the belly laughs that her first book elicited. It merely sounds like the whining of a relatively well adjusted girl from a stable family living in New York and trying to be edgy.

I really thought this book fell short of the benchmark and am not entirely sure if I will read more of her work. Which is absurd to me, given how much I adored her first book. Her first book inspired me to write. This book inspired me to write better that her.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lauren G VINE VOICE on June 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sloane Crosley is an extraordinary talent. Much like the other notorious essay writers of today (Sedaris, Vowell), her essays are private and often hilarious glimpses into her life. From encountering clowns in Lisbon to getting kicked out of Paris, Crosley has seen - and done - a lot. And her essays let you experience her life in a way that feels like you, too, were there.

How Did You Get This Number is a fantastic book, with an extraordinarily strong voice. (Which is obvious, considering her last book, the fantastically titled I Was Told There'd Be Cake, is in development as a series on HBO.) She makes the mundane interesting, the outrageous seemingly normal. Her writing is vivid, detailed and doesn't leave anything out. Her conversational tone is welcoming, and her stories addictive. And throughout it all, you just wish you were friends with her.

Show Me on the Doll, the first and my favorite essay, details her random trip to Lisbon, where she, as mentioned, met clowns, got lost and found a tower that didn't lead to anything. Still, the experience was enlightening in a way a trip to Paris wouldn't have been. Le Paris!, which chronicles two trips to the city beautiful, shows the humor in traveling, and how things aren't always how you remember them to be. Take a Stab at It is a relatable tale about crazy roommates, and If You Sprinkle is a fantastic tale about growing up and who we - and those who were cool in elementary school - become. It's about those passive-aggressive friendships, and how there's no way to predict the future, despite what the game Girl Talk may suggest. Off the Back of a Truck was incredibly surprising - in a fantastic way.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sonia Aurora Lepe on November 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
very great funny read, I have also read her other book, identifiable. Highly recommended to those who are nostaglic for the 1990s and dating woes
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Vincent on June 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the first Sloane Crosley book I've read, and I found it completely delightful. The best stories for me were "It's Always Home You Miss," on the art of riding in taxis in New York city: the drivers continuously engaged in phone conversations with family and friends, thinking about your entire life during a traffic jam, escaping from a vomit-smelling cab, having the driver miss your destination because of your bad articulation of it when you got in. I also liked "If You Sprinkle," which gives hilarious insight into what it's like to be a girl, the mean games girls sometimes play, the complete lack of compassion: Someone you know has what talent scouts would call "Jackie-0 eyes," but your group thinks they're like Kermit the Frog's.

I also enjoyed the story of her comically bumbling through Paris and the last story, a somewhat oblique narrative of her dating a man who's already in an established relationship (unknown to her), combined with her strange relationship with a mover who hauls over clearly stolen home furnishings under the guise that they were floor models.

Crosley has a gift for images, which she suddenly throws in your face to create hilarious pictures of the situation she's in.

I would rate her writing not nearly as good as Sarah Vowell's or David Sedaris's, but surely something you want to read and a real mood brightener. Since the book consists of essays, you can put it down at any time--but you won't want to.
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