Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CULT CLASSIC by Sloane Crosley Kirkus Star

CULT CLASSIC

by Sloane Crosley

Pub Date: June 7th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-3746-0339-7
Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

An author best known for her essay collections—Look Alive Out There (2018) and I Was Told There’d Be Cake (2008)—explores the inner workings of modern love in her second novel.

Lola’s whole life revolves around the magazine where she has worked for years. Her co-worker Vadis has become her best friend simply by being someone she sees every day and the person who knows more about her than anyone else. Lola’s identified each and every shortcoming in their boss, Clive—she describes him as a man “animated by logic and brown liquor”—but she’s still just a little bit in thrall to him. Even after Modern Psychology folds, she meets up with Clive and Vadis and another colleague for the occasional dinner. They’re finishing a meal in Chinatown when she steps out for a cigarette and runs into her ex, a writer named Amos. They have a charged conversation, one that makes Lola ask herself uncomfortable questions about her engagement to an artist she calls Boots. The next night, after an old acquaintance drags her to the same Chinese restaurant, Lola encounters Willis, an Olympic athlete and another former lover....She soon learns that these encounters are not coincidences and there are more such encounters to follow. Crosley is nothing if not ambitious here, interrogating contemporary wellness culture and the very nature of love as Lola confronts a gauntlet of ghosts from her romantic past and questions her desire for a future with Boots. Clive, who parlayed his role as editor of Modern Psychology into a brief career as a talk show host, emerges as a self-styled guru using the free labor of his unquestioning acolytes to create a product that gives clients perfect emotional closure. Crosley has created the ideal protagonist/narrator for navigating this low-key–SF but very real world. Lola is skeptical and prickly while also being vulnerable—a wiseass with a heart. The story is plenty engaging, but it’s Crosley’s analytical acumen and gift for the striking metaphor that really gives the book life.

Thoughtfully and humanely acerbic.