Book Review: How Did You Get This Number – Sloane Crosley

(Portobello) £12.99

Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams

“Imagine what it is to be rejected by the most sophisticated and casually stunning place in the world. A place filled with the highest percentage of women on the planet able to pull off chinchilla wraps with jeans. To not be welcome in the City of Love is tantamount to being rejected by love itself. Why couldn’t I have gotten thrown out of Akron, Ohio? City of Rubber.”

Though the French authorities have never “formally banished” Sloane Crosley, the sequence of adventures and misadventures that have befallen her in their capital city, as she recounts in Le Paris!, one of the nine essays in How Did You Get This Number, including out of loyalty to a Protestant friend, making a confession at the Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame, despite being Jewish and speaking little French, to a French/Japanese speaking priest, have lead her to feel that she “will not be ‘asked back’ anytime soon.”

Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley

Crosley has a magnetic attraction to, come mischievous delight in pursuing, happenstance and circumstance that often leaves her out of step with accepted mores, but in falling out of step she observes and spotlights the absurdities all too common in following the pack and the path of doing something just because that’s what everyone else does. Whilst, with the same wickedly spot on humour and terrific insight, she also navigates and highlights the complexities and perplexities facing a just-turned-thirty New Yorker, both in her home city, following on from her 2008 debut collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, and also, as above in Paris, in an SUV in Alaska with a ‘hen party’ wearing bear bells on their pony tails, and in Lisbon in an open air bar with three amateur Portuguese circus clowns…

Smart, sassy, subversive, with a Noir edge – not least in Crosley’s trip to McGurk’s Suicide Hall whilst searching for a new appartment – How Did You Get This Number is a terrific mix of funny, reflective, and revelatory.


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