Sloane Crosley gets her cake
One thing is certain in publishing: your chances of survival in the industry are much better if you have a good sense of humor. Sloane Crosley — associate director of publicity for Vintage and the author of a new collection of essays — does. The stories in her book I Was Told There’d Be Cake revolve around the Larry David–like theme of comic disappointment. When I reach Crosley by phone in New York, she reveals, among other things, the title to her first novel, which she has guaranteed will never be published.
“Fuck You, Columbus,” your essay about getting locked out of two apartments while moving, was first published in the Village Voice after you’d e-mailed Ed Park at the Voice and some other friends a version of the day’s events. Was this when you first began writing?
I actually had been writing for years, as most people have, but I think it takes a lot of gall to walk around and call yourself a writer before you have anything published — “I’m working on my ‘novel,’ but what I really want to do is direct.” Once I started writing for the Voice, I realized that people might actually want to listen to me — a couple of them.
What did you think when you saw the New York Observer piece that ran last november dubbing you “the most popular publicist in the world” — both as a person and as a book publicist?
As a person, I was both thrilled and embarrassed. And as a book publicist, I was like, “This ran too early.”
In “The Ursula Cookie,” you chronicle an absurd chain of events leading up to being fired from your first job in publishing. Just before the story’s dénouement, you give your boss a cookie you baked in the shape of her head. Did you think, at the time, it was something you would write about?
I didn’t really think I was going to write about it. Mostly because it was so upsetting at the time. That story just recycled itself just in terms of general cocktail-party fodder. So I knew it was a story. I realized that once I contextualized that one part of the story, it could be an essay. I’m actually partial to that essay too. Maybe because I think one of the most thoroughly ridiculous things I’ve ever done was bake that cookie.
“One Night Bounce” isn’t just about the planning and thought you put into your desire to have a one-night stand. you also wove in twisted childhood images of what you thought sex was and how that changed as you got older. What prompted you to add that extra layer?
That essay was something that was brought about by me thinking, “What is something that I thought was going to be a certain way and is now blatantly not?” I didn’t want to write about relationships. I think it’s a little bit boring. Or rather, I think it’s very difficult. I think there are certain subjects that are just so hard to write about because they’ve been done by so many brilliant people. That includes war. People who write war books, people who write books on Lincoln, I’m like, “Are you out of your mind?” Even though those sell [like] you wouldn’t believe! Lincoln books and sex books — if there was some sort of exposé on Lincoln’s sex life, it would be the best-selling novel or non-fiction book you’ve ever seen.
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