Sloan Crosley: So Fresh and So Clean Among the Literary Elite

Before writing about Keith Gessen, how Sloan Crosley’s cooler than him, and why I’m a bona fide loser, let’s back track a bit. (Oh, and please make note: this not a review of their works, as a colleague at CollegeCandy has already been kind enough to write about Crosley’s work. Moreover, I have yet to read these two recently published books).
Once upon a time, in a beautiful castle high above NYC, Mr. Leon Neyfakh wrote a piece about Ms. Crosley in The New York Observer
In part, the piece publicized her novel, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, but the primary focus of Mr. Neyfakh’s article praised Ms. Crosley’s aura of exuberant “niceness.” Not surprisingly, such a personality trait is all but absent, if not extinct, among the effete New York literary crowd. But is that really true? If one were to believe Neyfakh’s claims, embrace Ms. Crosley’s genuine goodness in contradistinction to the scene of blobby, degenerate, self-absorbed New York literati, the picture – in my mind – is plain boring and problematically monolithic.
For all intents and purposes, these literati types are just exhausted, absolutely exhausted from their own ennui, the same old schmoozing fests that they must endure; exquisitely over-expensive cocktails either in swanky bars in Manhattan or at some boring, obligatory party in the “country.” It’s the same ol’ picture we Kansans (and everybody else outside of/excluded from the cherished and sought after New York City publishing scene) are hand fed.
How many times must I read about New York’s literary snobs, its inherent nepotism, and overwhelmingly self-satisfied boredom that only a few “enjoy?” But wait just a minute! Along comes this fresh-faced beauty! Not only is she adorable with shiny hair, but she’s smart, too! She’s just what those drab party scenes needed. Yippee! It’s like watching a Noxema commercial with Ms. Sloan as “the so fresh and so clean” model who is enlivening the sooty mood that these bores had begrudgingly accepted as a necessary given to their imprisoned self-satisfied literary milieu.
Granted, I’m not suggesting that Ms. Crosley isn’t sweet, smart, and funny. I mean, if all these people say she’s delightful, well…she probably is. How should I know? While I can and will judge Papa Joe Simpson, I hesitate to judge Ms. Crosley. Besides she’s a writer like me. She just happened to make it big, and I think that’s swell. Soooo, I can’t possibly make such an assessment about her character as I write this piece in the middle of Kansas, at my favorite bar, Henry T’s.
Here is what strikes me as most interesting about this aforementioned piece by Neyfakh. In all honesty, it was not really the piece itself that struck me as particularly interesting, but rather the rancorous comments that ensued. One person cantankerously wrote, “I went to college with Ms. Crosley and not only is her writing sub-par, her personality is as well. Give me a break!” Another commenter chortled (not verbatim), “Hmmmm, I sense jealousy.” Jealousy indeed. Just imagine all those water cooler rants about “So-and-So’s” unworthy success – these vipers are filled with rancor, envy, and unjustified rage. Perhaps that’s what propels the publishing industry’s spluttering engine? This raises an important question: do these comments that I’ve just mentioned confirm Neyfakh’s dichotomic picture of Crosley versus the rest of the publishing world, and thus invalidate my own critique? (Oh dear, this piece is reminding me of Dominick Dunne… yikes).
Then, of course, there’s Keith Gessen.
TO BE CONTINUED…

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