Girls talk

By SHARON STEEL  |  June 20, 2010

It's possible that nobody thinks that mirrors Crosley's M.O., given how self-assured she seems, even with regard to qualities that she portrays as somewhat shameful. But in an interview with Crosley included in her new book's press material, she's asked what she learned from her first collection that may have informed How Did You Get This Number. "You don't have to explain everything from the ground up, don't have to justify yourself either in the writing of the book or when speaking about it," Crosley says. "I think of all the serious nonfiction about natural disasters or biographies of unsung artists being published. There's a lot of 4 am why am I doing this again? That's healthy in small doses. . . . Trust that you are not an asshole and you care about the big issues of the world. . . . and that if you're lucky, you'll actually get to them through the smaller ones."

Crosley and Gould are each unfailingly honest in this way — not just about what they choose to write about, but why, and how it matters. At this point in time, people's real lives aren't often trusted to be fascinating to others. This is why most reality television is now scripted — experiences have to be painted as real, and therefore viewed as aspirational. It's a crazy lie that makes us all feel better.

But it seems to me that if these two writers agree on anything, it's this: it's okay to be a woman who believes that she is the best subject matter for her work, and that her unreserved thoughts are interesting, valuable, strange, comical, and worth space on a shelf. It's okay to be young and write as if you understand love and sadness, and to look back on stuff that just happened, instead of on properly faded memories. Because it leaves a reader free to try and see themselves, somewhere, in all that mess. There's something beautiful in being strong enough to say exactly what you wanted at the time, even if you're led to believe no one is listening.

SLOANE CROSLEY | Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | June 25, 7 pm | 617.566.6660 |

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