Thursday, September 9, 2010
"How Did You Get This Number" by Sloane Crosley
Musings: I had really enjoyed Crosley's first book, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, in large part because I identified so strongly with her mid-20s uncertainty and frustration. In How Did You Get This Number, Crosley is a little older and the stories a little less unified. The essays are primarily reflections of her travels or of childhood events, and while there's still plenty of humor, it's a bit less biting and a little more somber.
I still loved Crosley's ability to self-deprecate and expose the idiosyncrasies and obsessive tendencies we all have yet try to hide from others. Her first essay, "Show Me the Doll," about a spur of the moment decision to visit Lisbon, was great. Traveling to Europe is very popular with my age group and is constantly romanticized, but Crosley shows that being an impulsive jet-setter is not enough to ensure you have a good time. I also appreciated her second essay, "Lost in Space," where she discusses being diagnosed with a severe temporal-spatial deficit as a child. Although I don't have nearly the difficulties that Crosley does, I think I certainly share some of that deficit, so it was nice to know my inability to follow directions or read a map may not be due solely to me being an idiot.
The other essays were a little less successful, often suffering from poor pacing. In several Crosley interposed current experiences with childhood experiences, but I found the connections forced. She also wanders off into philosophical musings that were difficult to follow and lacked lasting significance. I found this especially true in "It's Always Home You Miss," a generalized essay about New York City taxis.
As someone approaching the end of her 20s herself, I was a bit disconcerted to see some of the spunk I loved in Cake missing in this book. But, perhaps it's just necessary to adjust to changing understandings and expectations as one ages.