Every time I search for a book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Borders, the kindly suggestion fairy that lives in the software says, “Based on your interests, may I suggest…” or words to that effect. Lately, the fairy has been pretty insistent. It keeps telling me that I would enjoy a book of Sloane Crosley’s essays, How Did You Get This Number. When I read a description of Crosley as “neurotic…implusive…witty,” I realized just what the fairy was basing its assumptions on. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
Crosley has a talent for taking poignant, sometimes embarrassing, situations and turning them into very funny stories. She is a writer who well knows how to use the essay form to her best advantage. Her essays reveal her to be profoundly human.
People who just up and fly to another country, one where they don’t speak the language, have always mystified me. Their combination of bravery and chutzpah is something to which I can only aspire. Crosley, without being able to speak a word of Portuguese, decided to spend some time in Lisbon. Alone. The details are in “Show Me on the Doll,” the first essay in How Did You Get This Number.
Her experiences are amusing, scary, and sometimes tinged with melancholy. Somehow it seems that traveling vicariously through Crosley is a much better idea than setting out on our own and contending with nude shopping channels and less-than-friendly natives who don’t have a clue what you’re saying.
Crosley has a way of meandering when presenting a situation, and the little side trips she takes with her readers are well worth the time. Her imaginings about the jewelry in a Tiffany’s catalog are just as refreshing as the details of her visit to Paris.
Crosley is not the voice of everywoman. She is much more the neurotic New Yorker with a talent for expressing herself and involving readers who can identify, yet at other times wonder, “What was she thinking?” Regardless, they will enjoy the experience and wish it had been longer.