the Little Red Reviewer

I was told there’d be cake . . .

Posted on: April 29, 2011

I Was Told There’d be Cake, by Sloane Crosley

published in 2008

where I got it: the library

why I read it: Carl V recommended it

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I had no idea what to expect out of this book. I’ve never really read a book of essays before, at least not voluntarily. It starts out very darkly funny, and I kept hearing Allie Brosh’s voice reading this.  As Allie’s voice faded and Sloane’s took over, I found I was reading about someone about my age, and due to that, we had a lot of similar experiences growing up.  Not only is her prose witty and smart and so easy to get into, but it was a nice little change up of scenery for me.  Sometimes it’s tough to relate to all those time travelers, swashbucklers and space smugglers who live in a galaxy a long time ago and far away, you know?

Sloane recounts numerous moments in her life that are actually pretty serious sounding – the disaster that was her first “big girl” job, getting stuck in a wedding with a bridezilla, her youthful misunderstandings about sex and religion at summer camp, and makes turns them into something poignant and funny.  and you know what? My first “big-girl” job sucked too, and it was nice to find I wasn’t the only 8th grader with less than no clue about kissing boys.

She lives in Manhattan, and although I’ve never lived in New York City, I’ve been there enough times that I recognized many of the places and neighborhoods she mentions.  And her suburban upbringing, selfishness, social ineptness and occasional moments of utter brain-not-workingness? Yup, I recognize those too, from every time I look in the mirror.

There is about a dozen essays in this skinny little volume, and although not all of them are perfect, they are all worth reading. from a few pages long to maybe a dozen pages,  it’s perfect bedtime reading. My favorites were where Sloane is talking about her relationship with her family, going through her Mom’s jewelry box asking about the histories of the pretty bits (I did that!), her hypochondriac sister, watching Twin Peaks over tv dinners, realizing her Jewish parents accidentally sent her to a Christian summer camp. The Twin Peaks conversation with her mother, now that had me laughing my ass off.

If you’re looking for a quick little read full of fun snippets and no strings attached, give this book a try. Ladies, I think will like it more than the Gents (gents, if you can get past all the tampon mentions, I applaud you) but who knows all the girly secrets the fellows will pick up if they read it.

Don’t misunderstand, this is not one of those feel-good books with a happy moral at the end that has also you laughing out loud every other page. Sure, I had my snorting moments, but there were many more moments of me realizing I did those same things at that same age, and I continue to do some of those same things, and if she does these things too that makes me normal, right? And sometimes that feeling that you really are just like everyone else is  better than laughing out loud.

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3 Responses to "I was told there’d be cake . . ."

I read this one last year. I agree. There are funny moments but plenty of I’ve done those things too moments.

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While I normally don’t read essay collections this does sound like a would probably enjoy. I’ll definitely have to check it out.

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I’m glad you read it and enjoyed it. I think your description nails it. These are not all feel good, “there’s a moral to the story” essays, but in the end you do feel good reading them because what you have is a collection of stories about a real life. Sure, they are put down in interesting word combinations by a talented writer and no doubt embellishment occurs, but they are all very easy to relate to, even to someone like me who in many ways has not had similar experiences to Crosley. And I have to say that ‘Fuck you Columbus’ is one of my favorite essays ever.

I hope you read her latest, it is just as good in my opinion.

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