Book Review: I Was Told There’d Be Cake

I Was Told There'd Be CakeI Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The best writers can take mundane details or cliché topics and make them uniquely witty, but I can’t help feeling like Sloane Crosley falls short with that here. She can be funny – she made me chuckle with individual lines and descriptions – and yet each essay ends on a disappointing note, lacking the sort of hum I expect at the conclusion of any good piece of writing. Her topics include summer camp, New York City jobs and apartments, and suburbia, so it is all the more important for her to make these things new. Some of the idiosyncracies of each essay do hold promise: she accepted and hid toy ponies from seven different boyfriends without letting on that it was becoming a trend; she was the maid of honor for a couple who changed their last name to Universe. But each promising introduction and witty joke falls short at the moment when she withdraws from her most candid storytelling, glossing over anything that might upset someone in her life and ending with unsure lines that trail off like the voice of a speaker who suddenly realizes the anecdote isn’t as important or funny as she thought when she began. This hesitation to take risks, this lack of conviction in her own storytelling, makes the collection stale. I’m tired of hearing New York City authors wax poetic about the place and I don’t feel sympathy for her single middle class quarter life crisis a la Carrie Bradshaw, nor does she make me laugh at my own. In the end this book strikes me as too self-absorbed and too afraid of slighting people to engage readers beyond herself and her circle of family and friends.

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