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Recently read: I Was Told There'd Be Cake

[Originally published at the now defunct group blog explananda.com]

Posted on February 9, 2009
Tags: book_reviews

Sloane Crosley. I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays

This is a collection of personal essays. On the back, one of the blurbs calls it a “lively reminiscence about growing up strange.” The blurber can’t have read the book. Crosley is a remarkably bland, ordinary person. Indeed, her blandness is sort of a recurring theme in these essays, as she seems perfectly aware that she’s a bland, ordinary person.

Personal essays can charm by the force of an author’s personality; by their subject matter; or by their distinctive use of language. Regarding the first, see the first paragraph. As for the subject matter, it’s also pretty bland. Throughout I Was Told There’d Be Cake there are occasional sentences, one-liners, and similes that made me laugh and keep reading. But I thought they were dragged down by the surrounding prose, which often seems to be either trying too hard to be funny or reads as though it could have used just one more draft. Her writing is well-paced for all that, and if you’re not fussy, or if you’re not in a fussy mood, this book might get you through a few subway rides.


Author: Paul
Date: 2009-02-10

Definitely the sort of book you’d expect me to write, based on my dissertation. And probably the sort of book I’d end up writing in any case. So: Four Stars!

Author: Chris
Date: 2009-02-10

I don’t get it. Wouldn’t you write “I was told the cake would be fairly divided”?

Author: Paul
Date: 2009-02-10


I was referring to the “remarkably bland” and the “dragged down by the surrounding prose” parts.