And like that! There were no more pages to read. Have ever read a book so quickly that it feels like a little episode in your head rather than a full book? That is exactly what happened to me when I completed I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays by Sloane Crosley in a period of 24 hours.
Like many in the humor/ memoir/ essay genre, Crosley strings together a collection of personal stories to create a selective narrative over the course of several years in her life. Unlike other books in this genre, however, Crosley’s stories do not seem to be building towards anything. For example, in Mindy Kaling’s memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Kaling’s essays show her progression from a shy adolescent to a competent career woman. In contrast, Crosley’s stories jump around to seemingly random episodes in her teenage years, college years, and young adulthood without rhyme or reason. To me, this bric-a-brac sort of structure is amusing in the same way that animated sitcoms are – you can jump right in at any point without having to worry about missing crucial information from previous episodes.
In a word, I would describe the memoir as ‘entertaining.’ Unlike other essay books that delve into deeply personal issues, Crosley’s book remains light-hearted at all times. In contrast, for example, in Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, hilarious stories of the comedienne’s misadventures are offset by moments of deep, personal struggle, and even a discussion on gun violence in America. Crosley, on the other hand, makes commentary on the ordinary and peculiar events in her life rather than expounding on personal tragedy or pivotal moments. Crosley makes great use of her observational skills and has managed to spin hilarious tales out of mundane topics such as the origins behind her first name, juvenile misconceptions about sex, and even about the Millennial cult classic – Oregon Trail.
On a deeper level, each of Crosley’s essays touches on some very real human moments (preoccupations, misperceptions, insecurities, etc.). For example, in her essay “The Ursula Cookie,” Crosley uses the story of her unpleasant work situation to explore trepidations at a first job and feelings of discomfort between her and her boss. Additionally, in (my favorite essay) “You on a Stick,” Crosley tells the hilariously awkward story of how she inadvertently became the maid of honor at a “friend’s” wedding to make commentary on friendships and obligations.
If you’re looking to read something light – do consider I Was Told There’d Be Cake. Crosley is certainly a storyteller! Although all essays are told from Crosley’s point of view, the variety of topics covered are diverse enough to provide a mix of stories that continually offer you something new to enjoy.
P.S. although I try not to judge a book by its cover… the beauty of this book’s cover absolutely equals the quality of its contents 🙂