KELLY VAUGHAN ’17
Witty, accessible, intelligent, and successful, Sloane Crosley is an author of irresistible writing, making her the ultimate “cool girl” in the publishing industry. A Connecticut College class of 2000 graduate, Crosley has taught courses at New York University and Columbia University. She serves as a columnist for a number of publications, including The New York Times, The New York Observer, The Village Voice, and Black Book Magazine. Crosley has amplified her hip image by also modeling for eyewear company Warby Parker and downtown denim chain, Madewell. Crosley has published two collections of nonfiction essays, respectively titled “How Did You Get This Number?” and “I Was Told There’d Be Cake,” as well as her first fiction novel “The Clasp,” which was released in October 2015.
At Connecticut College, Crosley majored in Anthropology with a concentration in Archeology before switching to English Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. “I just loved [writing] too much to push it aside,” said Crosley. “So my gravitation towards books and writing would probably have happened anywhere. But it was a professor at Conn, Blanche Boyd, who really nurtured my writing and pointed me in the right direction.”
Crosley has been praised for her humorous and honest stories. Her essay titles are hilarious, touching on every topic from turning sixteen (“The Height of Luxury”), to growing up in an affluent suburban town (“Bastard Out Of Westchester”), to attempting to try a vegetarian diet (“Lay Like Broccoli”). In “Bring-Your-Machete-to-Work-Day,” Crosley describes the ruthless choices one must make to survive in society and the questions one may be faced with as they go throughout life, using the analogy of the computer game, Oregon Trail.
Crosley’s stories take small moments from her life to draw on larger messages. Unlike some nonfiction authors who attempt to tell stories with dramatic narratives, Crosley keeps her plot simple, instead relying on universal themes to draw in readers. When asked if she has any particularly striking memories from her college experience, Crosley tells the Tripod, “If this interview were a movie, now would be the time you’d see a high-speed montage of a thousand memories. All of them stick out. It’s an infamously formative time. I suppose any instance of physical drama or change (locking myself out, taking a road trip, sitting in a crush’s dorm room, splitting my lip open after drinking too much, moving in to my room senior year) is going to stick out more.” Often times, rather seemingly insignificant encounters remain with oneself for years afterward, as the author explains.
Crosley’s typical choice of plot may be simple, but she insists that there is no one place or moment in her life where she looks for ideas. Of her inspiration, Crosely said “changes from essay to essay. Sometimes there’s a distinct story or experience and sometimes there’s a larger theme of issue that’s been pestering me. I just try to see how far I can take a piece of inspiration. Often it’s only two paragraphs and it never sees the light of day.”
For English students and aspiring writers, Crosley’s advice is to, “Develop your own taste. As it is with most things in life, trying to conform to what you think others want will only get you so far. However, do familiarize yourself with the current state of literature and publishing – the stuff you’re probably not being taught at this moment. Read the New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker and The London Review of Books. But mostly? Just figure out what you’d like to do if no one were paying you to do that thing…and then try to put yourself in a position to get paid for it.” As for her writing process when working on a new piece, Crosley notes “Again, it depends. And it’s different for both my nonfiction and my fiction. But it all starts with the infamously challenging first step of turning on the computer.”
Trinity College students will have the opportunity to hear Crosley recite some of her work and meet her Wednesday, Feb. 10, when she comes to campus as part of the English department’s A.K. Smith Reading Series, which is known for bringing both popular and lesser known authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Crosley is the first author in this series for the spring semester. Students will be able to meet Crosley, purchase her books, and have them signed.