This past weekend, during a long, much-needed excursion to the lake, I finished I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Although I was initially skeptical about the reviews for this book (can anyone be "as funny as David Sedaris" or have the endearing nerd humor of Sarah Vowell?), I couldn't put it down. A large part of my attraction to these essays was how familiar they seemed. A disastrous maid of honor escapade? Been there. A terrible job in a small office that made you question your college degree and self worth? Done that. Being an awkward, too-skinny, frizzy-haired mess of a kid? Take a look at my 3rd grade class photo.
That being said, I kind of hate Sloane Crosley. I don't genuinely hate her, but I dislike her in the way that women abhor Christina Hendricks for being naturally gorgeous or Tina Fey for making binge eating seem cute and normal. I hate her because she's managed to take all of the unfortunate, albiet funny, things that have happened to her and make them entertaining. Basically she's lived my life and produced a wonderful piece of creative non-fiction, whereas I've struggled to keep up a blog and wonder when I'll get the inspiration to write something worth reading.
When I write, I'm always frustrated that I don't have some great experience to chronicle, and yet, Crosley wrote a whole book about losing her wallet, getting locked out of her apartment, and other mishaps and minutiae. This book was inspirational in that it made me realize how much essay fodder I've acquired in 26 years. I don't have to wait to backpack across Europe or have kids or change the world; I just need to elaborate on my own life.
Sure, I'm a little surprised that this realization came from a book that used the word "Turdgate" more than once (I guess you'll have to read it for this reference to make sense), but I'm glad I was able to get more than a laugh from I Was Told There'd Be Cake. I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys the hilarity of everyday events, baking (specifically chocolate and pear tarts or sugar cookies), and witty prose.