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I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays Paperback – April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This debut essay collection is full of sardonic wit and charm, and Crosley effortlessly transforms what could have been stereotypical tales of mid-20s life into a breezy series of vignettes with uproariously unpredictable outcomes. From the opening The Pony Problem to the hilarious Bring-Your-Machete-to-Work Day (which will ring true for any child of the early 1990s who played the first Oregon Trail computer game), Crosley is equal parts self-deprecating and endearing as she recounts her secret obsession with plastic ponies and the joys of exacting revenge via a pixilated wagon ride. In less capable hands, the subjects tackled—from unpleasant weddings of long-forgotten friends to horrendous first jobs—could have been a litany of complaints from yet another rich girl from the suburbs. But Crosley, who grew up in Westchester and currently lives in Manhattan, makes the experiences her own with a plethora of amusing twists: a volunteer job at the American Museum of Natural History leads to a moral quandary, and a simple Upper West Side move becomes anything but. Fans of Sarah Vowell's razor-sharp tongue will love this original new voice. (Apr.)
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For those for whom the publication of new work by David Rakoff or Sarah Vowell would be a literary event equivalent with the announcement of an eighth Harry Potter novel, the release of Crosley’s debut collection of keenly insightful personal essays should have similar impact. The New York Times, NPR, and Village Voice contributor’s take on everything from volunteering to vegetarianism, bridesmaid’s duties to baking disasters escorts readers on a raucous ride through the fluctuating minefield that is contemporary culture. Crosley’s sardonic observations have a sassy edge; her nimble humor, a naughty zing. Yet beneath her smug persona of “young woman about town” (that town being Manhattan) lurks another, more vulnerable image: that of sensitive “mall rat from suburbia” (the suburbs being Westchester.) Real and recognizable, Crosley’s is the voice of everyone’s favorite quick-with-the-quips sister, daughter, roommate, coworker. With an unabashed appreciation for the trenchant irony inherent in life’s more quotidian activities, Crosley exposes society’s—and her own—most endearing qualities. --Carol Haggas
Top customer reviews
I'm afraid there's nothing new here--a few chuckles and clever witticisms, but mostly I found this to be a monotonous collection of tales from a young woman shaking off the selfishness of youth and coming of age. Of varying length and format, these essays aren't polished and there are attempts to give a last-line/full-circle zinger in several cases; however, for me they didn't work. Further, I knew there was a generation gap when she started waxing nostalgic about video games in the excerpt entitled "Bring Your Machete To Work Day." And I didn't quite know how to take the proclamation: [I] "find people who publicly strive to make the world a better place to be moderately annoying." I feel I should have been more on board with her sense of humor by 117 pages into the book where this appears. Nevertheless, I can't blame the author for these particular criticisms--which means this book had more of an audience problem for me, rather than a talent problem. I'd love to read more of Crosley's work, say in another decade or two. My guess is that she's going to get better and better.
Bottom line: Good writing, mildly humorous, nothing new for baby-boomers, but probably great for Gen X'ers and those who follow . . . what are they called? No doubt, Crosley knows.
Michele Cozzens is the author of It's Not Your Mother's Bridge Club
Super awesome book!