The essayist on reading pleasures long and short.
When Sloane Crosley locked herself out of two apartments in one day, that traumatic—and in the retelling, very funny—experience planted the seed that was to grow into an essay for the Village Voice, and would later give rise to the winning essay collection I Was Told There’d Be Cake. Crosley’s droll, deadpan, and effervescent essays about twentysomething life in New York struck a chord and drew comparisons to Dorothy Parker and David Sedaris (see below). Her new book How Did You Get This Number roams further afield, from Portugal to the Alaskan wilderness, in the same wry spirit. The author spoke with the Barnes & Noble Review about three of her favorite books.
By Richard Russo
“Russo’s charm-filled novel about an English professor, campus life and a dead goose should most certainly never be read in public. It’s hard not to think of it and smile. It reads as if Russo took a syringe to Don DeLillo’s White Noise, drew out the funniest bits and applied his own sense of meaning, style and heart to them. It truly is that endearing and lovely of a book.”
By David Sedaris
“This was the first big New York City reading I ever attended – at the B&N flagship in Union Square. Sedaris read ‘Picka Pocketoni’ (about being mistaken for French by two American tourists on the Paris Metro), which is a sentence-by-sentence hilarious essay. It’s not his most layered. I would soon read the rest of his work and watch him draw on amazing wells of beautiful emotion. But if the layer on which this exists had a name, it would be called ‘here is what it is to be so brilliantly funny, you should probably put down your drink before it comes out your nose.’”
By James Joyce
“Not a laugh-out-loud riot, especially when one imagines the famous last passage describing snow falling on headstones in ‘The Dead.’ But I read this book at least once a year and each time I do I unpack some technical trick or subtle wry tone that had previously gone unnoticed. I am a short story fanatic but while I find a lot of modern storytelling – both fiction and non-fiction – takes its cues and rhythms from the brilliant writing of John Cheever, it’s Joyce I keep coming back to.”