If This Isn't On Your Summer Reading List - It Needs To Be
On Friday night, I didn’t go to bed until 3 am. This might seem like a normal thing to do when you’re a New York City-dwelling, twenty-something, young woman who is newly single in what everyone is telling her is her prime—which, in and of itself, is a terrifying thought—but, I digress.
I was not checking out the hottest new rooftop bar in Chelsea, or enjoying libations underground at a nondescript, or, essentially barren, Williamsburg ‘speakeasy,’ that has become trendy simply because it is so hard to find. Instead, I was glued to reading Sloane Crosley’s new collection of essays entitled Look Alive Out There.
And, when I was finished reading, I felt compelled to write her an email.
No, I don’t know Sloane Crosley. In fact, I had never even heard of her prior to reading this book. I had heard of I Was Told There Would Be Cake, but I was fifteen when it had come out, and at that point in my life, I gravitated towards books such as Gravity’s Rainbow or Anna Karenina, because I was joyless and pretentious, and I thought that adding those books to my reading list would give me some sort of clout (over whom, I do not know. I was fifteen, and I did not know anything). As a result, an incredibly jovial title such as I Was Told There Would Be Cake didn’t quite resonate with me as it does now, because, certainly, if I was told there’d be cake, I would be there, and I sure as hell would be disappointed if there was not any cake.
So, in my email sent to the generic email address that I had found on sloanecrosley.com, I had expressed how much Look Alive Out There had moved me. Sloane Crosley is the writer that I wish I was (and hope to be), with the confidence that I wish I had (and hope to have).
In each of her essays, she recounts times that were, most likely, incredibly embarrassing for her, or, at the very least, difficult; in her essay, “Outside Voice,” she discusses an obsession and fascination with an incredibly pesky, yet, stereotypically ‘cool’ high-school-aged neighbor with whom she shares a backyard; she is ambivalent, as she both detests him and wants him to validate her own coolness, which is an emotion that is all too real, and, yet, hard to admit or come to terms with, as an adult.
In a “Dog Named Humphrey,” she discusses how she was asked to be a guest-star, playing herself, on Gossip Girl, all the while fan-girling herself all over set, and describes an incredibly embarrassing moment that she had had with Chace Crawford, which sounds like most girls’ nightmare.
And, in addition to merely recounting embarrassing moments, she goes places that most people won’t go: in the essays, “Wheels Up” and “Brace Yourself,” she makes herself vulnerable in how she is perceived by accidentally coming across as incredibly gauche, but she seems to be nonplussed (definition #2!), nonetheless. And for that, she is awesome.
Anyway, this essay that I’m writing about Sloane Crosley’s essays was not intended to be a book review, but instead was supposed to be a manifesto on why you (and everyone you know) should read Look Alive Out There, but perhaps, that goal was not achieved, just yet.
Sloane Crosley’s candor, confidence, humor, and irreverence will leave you with a feeling that it’s okay to be you. She puts herself out there, and she’s endearing. She makes mistakes, but she laughs at herself. She writes about it, and she's better than most of us, because of that.
When I finished the book, I realized that there doesn’t have to be all that much separating me from Sloane Crosley (well, actually, there are a lot of things, but just bear with me, here): I make mistakes all the time. I am hard on myself. I ruminate. I get anxious. I feel like I am constantly the man in the mirror. Not à la Michael Jackson, but à la meme:
But what if I just didn’t do all those things? What if, instead, I wrote about all the things that I do that give me constant foot-in-mouth syndrome? What if I laughed at myself more? What if I transformed my embarrassing moments into something that helped people? Could I be as inspirational as Sloane Crosley?
One can only hope.
So, if you’re looking for something uplifting and need your mojo back, there’s nothing that I encourage you to do more than read Look Alive Out There. Thank you, Sloane Crosley, for making me feel like it’s okay to be me, and I look forward to no longer likening myself to the man in the mirror.
Renée Pindus, Co-Founder @ Arrive Well