Sloane Crosley’s Cult Classic targets start-up culture
Sloane Crosley’s cult classic.
EXAM: Sloane Crosley’s second novel, an unromantic comedy satirizing start-up culture, modern dating, urban aesthetes and other millennial woes, is dedicated to “men”. With his gift for precision, the author clarifies: well, “some of the men”.
Crosley’s first two books, I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, were collections of essays reminiscent of Nora Ephron, filled with tender scenes surrounded by acerbic jokes, the emotional tenor of her carefully calibrated humor , almost as well if it is informed by an algorithm. Her debut novel, The Clasp, centered on similar themes, directed by a sophisticated cast of 20 people.
In Cult Classic, Crosley turns his satirical gaze to love in a time of search options, data trails, Instagram-imposed memories, an ever-present past. Its heroine, Lola, an inexhaustibly ironic copywriter, is engaged to Boots, a glassblower who went to Brown and who, Lola observes more than once, is 6ft 3in tall – as if his physical presence always registers her. like a list of facts, a walking Hinge profile.
Those winning qualities aside, Boots doesn’t get Lola’s full attention. She is preoccupied with a box full of letters from her exes, which she often thinks about; it doesn’t help that their personal sites and semi-professional portraits, their grids populated with newborn girls, their more than lukewarm reviews of overly long second novels are just a few keystrokes away.
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Then, surreal, the all-too-present past presents itself to Lola IRL; over the course of a few days, she meets a series of her exes, each time struggling to experience something like closure.
Crosley’s fast-paced wit and plot lends itself better to some of Cult Classic’s later scenes, which take place in a marble-laden boot space inside an abandoned synagogue, with an espresso, but mostly no of cold pressed juice. Here, we learn that Lola’s ex-dating was not accidental but part of a scheme hatched by her former partner in a little flirtation. The two worked together at a now-folded magazine, Modern Psychology, which inspired him to start a business with Lola as his unwitting test subject. Could immersion therapy cure nostalgia and indecisiveness in love? Hard to say.
The cult quality of companies offering camaraderie instead of a living wage is an ideal subject for Crosley, who confuses the setup but warmly regards those who fall for it. After the decline of modern psychology, Lola herself is caught in an unsatisfactory position on an artistic site, “covering culture instead of creating it”.
Inevitably, his work affects his personal life. Lola laments that she has become a superficial consumer, a “people hoarder”, “detailing… faults as if I had none”. In a moving moment of sincerity, she observes, “perhaps the Internet has spoiled us more than we suspected and we already suspected a lot”.
Although a longer-lasting love is presented as an alternative to internet glamor, Crosley doesn’t seem to commit to that deepening of character and connection by the end. Instead, the book is a fun mirror on a set of alienated townsfolk, an endless source of clean-cut catches.
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley (MCD) is available from August 2.