IN COMMERCIAL CIRCLES THERE'S AN OBSESSION WITH CAPTURING AND CATALYZING THE LATEST GENERATION, WHICH – IN DEFIANCE OF EARTHLY TIME – IS RECLASSIFIED NEARLY ANNUALLY. IN JUST THE PAST YEAR, MARKETERS HAVE SHIFTED THEIR LASER GAZE FROM SO-CALLED ENTITLED MILLENNIALS TO THE MORE DISCERNING GENERATION Z. THE FALLACY IS, OF COURSE, IN ASSUMING THAT EACH COHORT IS DECIDEDLY DIFFERENT THAN THE PREVIOUS. ITS APPARATUSES AND MISTAKES MAY BE – SEXTING DOES REQUIRE A HANDHELD DEVICE – BUT THE HUMAN IMPULSES THAT MOTIVATE EACH'S BEHAVIOR AREN'T.
Writer Sloane Crosley is a snappy antidote to this misconception. Her first two books, selections of essays titled “I Was Told There’d Be Cake” and “How Did you Get This Number,” strike the ephemeral balance of relevance and timelessness, both in title and in content, that shape a coming-of-age. Her essays present a sidesplitting portrait of the unforgiving uncertainty and inevitable embarrassment that personal evolution insists. Sure, if Sloane was 20 right now, she might be sharing her piercing missives via Snapchat instead of amazon.com but their apt message and welcome reception would likely be the same. Life is about our connections and commonalities the popularity of Sloane's books remind us (both are New York Times bestsellers). This assertion is further confirmed by her debut novel, “The Clasp,” which arrived on bookshelves this month and reaches back into history to inspire its characters’ present.
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?
Getting stitches on my chin after slipping and falling in the bathtub.
A QUOTE YOU LOVE?
"The genius [in the room] is the one most like himself." – Thelonious Monk
YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?
That is an impossible question but "Birds of America" by Lorrie Moore is popping into my head.
THE LAST BOOK YOU READ?
"Ghostwritten" by David Mitchell.
A SONG YOU HAVE LISTENED TO 10 TIMES IN A ROW
A SONG FROM THE FIRST CONCERT YOU WENT TO
A SONG YOU HAVE DANCED TO AT HOME
YOUR MOST PRECIOUS OBJECT
My cat Mabel.
AN UNDERRATED FILM
YOUR FAVORITE POEM
The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.
They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.
My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.
I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.
I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.
The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.
Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.
Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.
The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.
YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE CHARACTER
SOMEONE YOU LOVE
The red panda is my all-time favorite animal.
A SONG THAT MAKES YOU CRY
A SONG WITH AMAZING WORDS
A SONG YOU'RE EMBARRASSED TO LOVE
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL VULNERABLE?
WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO FEAR?
Flight. Definitely flight.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST ADMIRABLE VIRTUE?
I am honest (most of the time).
WHAT DO YOU WISH WE TALKED ABOUT MORE?
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 13-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Write it all down.
AN IMAGE THAT WAS ON YOUR WALL AS A TEENAGER
My favorite Rene Magritte painting, mostly for the title: The Tomb of the Wrestlers.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE KISS? WHO WAS IT WITH?
In the pouring rain in New York, kissing a man I shouldn't have been kissing.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
When the things you've set in motion work for you in your sleep.
WHAT JOB WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING IF NOT THE ONE YOU DO NOW?
WHAT JOB WOULD YOU PROBABLY BE DOING IF NOT THE ONE YOU DO NOW?
A 3AM SONG
A SUNDAY MORNING SONG
A SONG THAT MAKES YOU NOSTALGIC
YOUR TRUE SELF
After a day of unproductive writing in my apartment. The cat seems not to notice.
WHAT WAS THE WORST VACATION YOU'VE EVER TAKEN?
A trip to Puerto Rico, where I realized I was about to get super dumped.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR WORK INDUSTRY?
Being surrounded by people who have an unbroken throughline of passion for books, starting from when they learned to read to this moment.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING ABOUT YOUR WORK INDUSTRY?
WHAT WOULD YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF THINK OF YOUR LIFE TODAY?
She would be pleased but perplexed that my apartment is still so small.
A LETTER YOU'VE SAVED
My first and possibly best-ever love letter from a boy at a camp social when we were 11 or 12. I did some olden timey "forwarding" and mailed it to my best friend back home because I was tickled that the guy was being so frank about his feelings. Which is a terrible thing to do – to send it away! But I got lucky and my friend found it before we went off to college and gave it to me. I was horrified that she had it but happy to have it back.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING ENCOUNTER WITH A FAMOUS PERSON?
I had my picture taken with Bill Clinton once and he put his arm around me and said, "I've been travelling all day, you're going to have to hold me up" while the photographer futzed with the camera. To which I replied: "I will consider it my civic duty." And in a flash I saw how that whole thing happened, you know?
WHAT IS A FOOD YOU COULD EAT EVERY DAY?
HARRISON FORD OR SEAN CONNERY?
BILL OR HILARY CLINTON?
THE LAST LINK YOU SENT