Look Alive Out There (Crosley)

Look Alive Out There: Essays
Sloane Crosley, 2018
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
256 pp.

Sloane Crosley returns to the form that made her a household name in really quite a lot of households—her essays!

From the bestselling author Sloane Crosley comes a brand-new collection of essays filled with her trademark hilarity, wit, and charm. The characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back, but with a newfound coat of maturity. A thin coat. More of a blazer, really.

Fans of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number know Sloane Crosley’s life as a series of relatable but madcap misadventures.

In Look Alive Out There, whether it’s scaling active volcanoes, crashing shivas, playing herself on Gossip Girl, befriending swingers, or staring down the barrel of the fertility gun, Crosley continues to rise to the occasion with unmatchable nerve and electric one-liners.

And as her subjects become more serious, her essays deliver not just laughs but lasting emotional heft and insight. Crosley has taken up the gauntlets thrown by her predecessors—Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, David Sedaris—and crafted something rare, affecting, and true.

Look Alive Out There arrives on the tenth anniversary of I Was Told There’d be Cake, and Crosley’s essays have managed to grow simultaneously more sophisticated and even funnier. And yet she’s still very much herself, and it’s great to have her back—and not a moment too soon (or late, for that matter). (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—August 3, 1978
Where—New York City, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Connecticut College
Currently—lives in New York City, New York

Sloane Crosley, a journalist, essayist, and novelist, was born in New York City where she still lives. She graduated from Connecticut College in 2000 and has worked as a publicist at Random House as well as an adjunct professor at Columbia University in the Master of Fine Arts program.

Crosley's first collection of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake (2008), became a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for The Thurber Prize. It was also one of Amazon's Best Books of the Year.

Her second collection, How Did You Get This Number (2010) also became a New York Times bestseller. Her third book of essays is Look Alive Out There (2018). Her debut novel, The Clasp (2015), has been optioned by Universal Pictures.

In addition to her novel and essay collections, Crosley is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and was the founding columnist for The New York Times "Townies" Op-Ed series. She has written columns for The New York Observer Diary and The Village Voice and has has been a regular contributor to The New York Times, GQ, Elle and NPR. Her frequent contributions include cover stories and features for Salon, Spin, Bon Appetit, Vogue, Esquire, Playboy, and W Magazine. She co-wrote the song "It Only Gets Much Worse" with Nate Ruess.

Crosley was also a weekly columnist for The Independent in the UK and editor of The Best American Travel Writing 2011.

Aside from writing, Crosley serves as co-chair of The New York Public Library's Young Lions Committee and on the board of Housingworks Bookstore.

In 2011, she appeared on the TV series Gossip Girl as herself and she has been a regular fixture on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. (From Wikipedia. Retrieved 4/18/2018.)

Book Reviews
[S]o what if you don’t read Crosley’s essays for universal human truths? Read them because, when life is like a long drive on I-80 west of Omaha, you want a clever, funny friend along for the ride.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Look Alive Out There is a delightful collection of hilarious essays that manage, in some cases, to point to relatable life lessons. It's equally smart, creative and hilarious.
Associated Press

Crosley’s best essays combine her sparkling verbal facility with a willingness to expose and explore more personal issues.… She has that rare ability to treat scrapes with sardonic humor and inject serious subjects with levity and hijinks with real feeling—a sort of unlicensed nurse to our souls.

Crosley wields her wit and commands all of your attention in her third collection of insightful and hilarious personal essays.

(Starred review) Crosley… continues her tradition of hilarious insight into the human condition…. Crosley is exceedingly clever and has a witticism for all occasions, but it is her willingness to confront some of life’s darker corners with honesty and vulnerability that elevates this collection.
Publishers Weekly

Whatever their experiences, readers can readily relate when she describes the frisson of climbing an active volcano and playing herself on Gossip Girl.
Library Journal

(Starred review) Laugh-out-loud funny seems too trite a phrase for a writer whose takes are so addictively original and unexpected, but it’s also true: dear readers, you will laugh. Whether 2 or 20 pages in length, Crosley’s essays are complete and stop-you-in-your-tracks clever.

(Starred review) The latest collection from the Manhattan-based essayist suggests she can write engagingly about nearly anything.… A smart, droll essay collection that is all over the map but focused by Crosley's consistently sharp eye.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for LOOK ALIVE OUT THERE … then take off on your own:

1. "Outside Voices" is ostensibly about the challenges of living in New York and learning to cope with the outfall of one of the most densely populated cities in the country. But what really bothers Crosley about the teenage boy who lives next door? Is it the frequent noise that disturbs her personal space … or something else?

2. In "If You Take the Canoe Out," what surprised you most about the pot-growing swingers the author stumbles into?

3. How does Crosley view her vertigo in "Cinema of the Confined"? She says "This was not some exotic destination that I would one day leave and report back on. This was my home now." What does she mean by that … and what are the emotional implications of her illness?

4. Is there a unifying thematic concern that link the 16 essays in Crosley's collection?

5. Make note of the author's narrative strategy in a number (if not all) of her essays: the essay opens with one particular topic/idea but gradually morphs into something different, often taking a completely unexpected direction. Talk about how that narrative tactic plays out in some of your favorite pieces.

6. In "The Doctor is a Woman," Crosley writes about her frozen eggs: "They are just floating fractions of an idea,” she writes. “I know that. But I had never seen a part of my body exist outside my body before. I felt such gratitude." Care to unpack that observation?

7. Crosley is a self-effacing writer. Give some examples of how her jokes (many, if not most) are mostly at her own expense. Do you appreciate her self-deprecation, finding it refreshing and honest? Or do you tire of it, finding it overdone?

8. How do you view Crosley's essays? Do they point to deeper meanings: serious epiphanies about today's culture or about her own personal failings? Or do you see them as ironically humorous commentaries about the idiosyncrasies of living in the 21st century? Perhaps, the essays do both.

9. How would you describe Sloane Crosley? Is she someone with whom you could be friends? Do you admire her? If so, why? Or if not … why?

10. Consider both the book's title … and the arresting cover photo with its finch perched on a white-gloved finger. Why?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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