The very funny Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake, has a new book of essays, How Did You Get This Number?. We asked her some questions, got some answers, and got her World Cup predictions, too.
Who is Sloane Crosley? What, do you not live in New York, or something? Sloane used to be a successful book publicist (she's worked with Joan Didion, Toni Morrison and Jonathan Lethem, among others). Then she wrote an email. It was a story about getting locked out of her apartment that she sent to a bunch of friends, and, unlike most emails people send to all their friends, hers was pretty funny—funny enough for Village Voice editor Ed Park to publish it. Things snowballed from there—more essay-writing, a book deal, a bestselling book, an HBO development deal—and next thing you knew, Sloane Crosley was a successful author and a successful book publicist, while many of us are just trying to be successful at one thing, like not spilling on ourselves when we eat food.
Her new essay collection, How Did You Get This Number?, came out on Tuesday. Some of the essays you might have read before—or seen the representative chicken dioramas—but Sloane says overall it's "darker and a bit deeper" than Cake. Not that, she offers, she has a "burning desire to grow as a person." We asked her some questions over email. Unfortunately, she was in her Minneapolis hotel before going to a reading when she got our email, and had a unique situation that prevented her from answering all of our probing, thought-provoking questions:
Luddite that I am I didn't bring a computer with me so I'm typing this from the concierge desk at the hotel where two people have already asked me about room service. They were a couple but still—two. It counts."
And despite all that, she got back to us within an hour with funny answers! And almost no typos! (She also instructs the reader to "imagine [the answers] all in a delightful everything-sounds-better Midwestern accent.") So: Sloane Crosley!
Q. How different is your experience with this book than with your last? Do you feel pressured to perform—in quality, or sales, or... some other thing?
A: Are you asking me if I have performance anxiety? Not really. It doesn't mean I don't get nervous, just that I'm too busy to be nervous in a timely fashion. I'll be about to read or click on a link of a review and in those seconds I realize how anxious I should have been before now.
Q: Is it more fun, or less fun, or the same amount of fun, or fun, but in a different way?
A: This is like a hearing test. I'm going to check the box "fun in a different way." Very fun.
Q: How did you approach writing this one, given different expectations and (I imagine) a somewhat different working process? Do you think of the book itself as substantially different from your last?
A: I think this book is darker and a bit deeper than the last but, hopefully, funnier. Or just as funny. I don't feel the burning desire to grow as a person. Steady amusement works. Really, I just liked the idea of taking blatantly unfunny themes and trying to make them funny. Like dead animals or very fat men or melancholy Portuguese mimes.
Q: A couple recent articles (one in The Daily Beast and one in The New York Times) have placed you alongside former Gawker editor Emily Gould and her new memoir And the Heart Says Whatever. Any thoughts on why that is, besides the obvious gender/age/location similarity? Do you see yourself as similar to Emily—or to Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee, whose I Know I Am, But What Are You? appears in the Daily Beast piece?
A: I can see why that's of interest but—and I swear on my Troop Beverly Hills ladywriter patch—I really don't know. Maybe Emily and I have very similar writing styles and are the same person but I've never read any of her long-format stuff. Same thing with Samantha Bee. I'll have a better answer in six months or so when I can sit down and read their books. Maybe it'll be really angry and insulted and maybe it'll be flattered but for now I don't have any snark chum.
Q: You're a successful author—a rare thing. So why keep working a day job? Have you considered writing full time?
A: I like my job. It's a really good one and I'm lucky to work with the people I work with. Also, I would go crazy without two jobs of some kind. I know this because when one side of my life cools down for a moment, I feel a temporary relief followed by a low-grade frustration. Sort of like when competitive swimmers shave their legs before a meet and then suddenly they're going at warp speed. Huh. I think I just compared either writing books or being a publicist to leg hair.
Q: Where would you be or what would you be doing if you weren't in publishing, or weren't a writer?
A: I'd probably be doing research in a museum somewhere. It's what I wanted to do when I was little. Catalogue bones and artifacts and paintings. I went to college for that.
Q: Who are you rooting for in the World Cup? Who do you think will win?
A: The Libyans. Two things you can't get past a Libyan: plutonium and a football. JK, I think they suck at both. [Ed.: They also suck at being in the World Cup, which they didn't qualify for.] My money's on Brazil.
Q: Is Barack Obama mad enough about the oil spill?
A: Sorry, what's enough? Going on Meet the Press and reenacting Carrie with oil instead of blood? Yes, I think he's mad enough.
Q: What did you think of the Lost finale?
A: I had never seen Lost and so I just tuned in for the last 5 minutes of the finale at a friend's house and had this sad little feeling that in a parallel universe where I was invested in the show, it wouldn't sound so Olympically dumb. But isn't there a plot line about some parallel invisible island? On that island, Lost means everything to me and I'm really bummed it's over.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: Freedom [the Franzen], The Imperfectionists [by Tom Rachman], Imperial Bedrooms [Bret Easton Ellis], Blood's A Rover [James Ellroy] and The Dud Avocado [Elaine Dundy]. I'm almost done with the first three but have a ways to go on the second two.
Q: What are you doing this weekend?
A: I'll be in San Francisco, eating burritos, reading from the book, and trying not to say "umm" too much in interviews.
Q: What's the best bar in New York?
A: Oh, man. Radio Bar, maybe. Marshall Stack I like. Or the bars at Cafe Loup or Raoul's. I've done the most damage to myself at Milady's if that's a criteria. I feel like I wind up doing most of my drinking these days at places that aren't bar bars.
Q: Who's the funniest person you know?
A: Andy Borowitz. And my friend Emily Pye who I'll be having dinner with tonight, actually. It really is that Minnesotan accent... it's magic.
Q: What's next for you?
A: Helping the people standing in front of me find a trolly to take their luggage up to their room.
[Photo via Getty Images]