Have you ever referred to a period of your life as a chapter? Often, when one door closes and another door opens, it is easy for us to see times in our lives as concrete segments. For Sloane Crosley, her life has manifested itself not only in chapters, but full books. A few weeks ago, I read her essay book I Was Told There’d Be Cake (review here) and recently finished reading another one of her memoirs titled Look Alive Out There. While I Was Told There’d Be had the tone of a meandering twenty-something, Look Alive Out There, printed ten years later, was just as hilarious, but had a more mature “grown-up” feeling about it.
While I Was Told There’d Be Cake, in my opinion, was filled with a youthful high-energy, Look Alive Out There, perhaps, in sync with its title was more subdued. For example, one story revolves around a quotidian NYC struggle, namely, that of noisy neighbors. While the author operates on a normal schedule and makes the amount of noise someone may expect from a person living alone, Crosley’s neighbors, a family with a teenage son called Jared, prove to be a living nightmare. In an essay that weaves together a story from Crosley’s observations, Crosley moans about Jared to friends complaining about the teen’s drum playing, loud music, and general raucousness. In a self-aware way, Crosley also makes commentary on how she has unwittingly become the cranky “old” neighbor who is driven insane by the rowdy youth.
In another story, Crosley recounts the time when she made a guest appearance on the New York City-based TV show “Gossip Girl.” If you are a fan of the show (which I have never actually seen), it will probably be interesting for you to hear about some of the goings on behind the scenes. Along the theme of age, I feel that this story presents Crosley in an interesting light as she is a successful, yet not famously well-known, author, cast alongside the rising starts of the “Gossip Girl” series.
Other stories include an interesting encounter with, perhaps, overly friendly neighbors in a cabin in New Hampshire, the tales of her 1970’s porn-star Uncle Johnny Seeman, and misadventures while scaling mountains.
Frankly, I preferred I Was Told There’d Be Cake. As a twenty-something, the theme of young woman bumbling through life and relationships is just more up my alley during this fleeting yet precious temporal period in my life. Regardless, I found the stories in Look Alive Out There to also be entertaining. If you are a fan of humorous essay books, do consider either of these titles.