Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

I Was Told There'd Be Cake: Essays

Rate this book
From the author of the novel, The Clasp, hailed by Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, and J. Courtney Sullivan. Wry, hilarious, and profoundly genuine, this debut collection of literary essays from Sloane Crosley is a celebration of fallibility and haplessness in all their glory.

From despoiling an exhibit at the Natural History Museum to provoking the ire of her first boss to siccing the cops on her mysterious neighbor, Crosley can do no right despite the best of intentions -- or perhaps because of them. Together, these essays create a startlingly funny and revealing portrait of a complex and utterly recognizable character who aims for the stars but hits the ceiling, and the inimitable city that has helped shape who she is. I Was Told There'd Be Cake introduces a strikingly original voice, chronicling the struggles and unexpected beauty of modern urban life.

The pony problem --
Christmas in July --
The ursula cookie --
Bring your machete to work day --
The good people of this dimension --
Bastard out of Westchester --
The beauty of strangers --
Fuck you, Columbus --
One-night bounce --
Sign language for infidels --
You on a stick --
Height of luxury --
Smell this --
Lay like broccoli --
Fever faker

230 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 2008

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sloane Crosley

16 books1,988 followers
Sloane Crosley is the author of the novels Cult Classic and The Clasp, as well as three books of essays collections, most recently Look Alive Out There and the New York Times bestsellers I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number. A two-time finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, her work has been selected for numerous anthologies. Her next book, Grief Is for People, will be out in early 2024. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair, she lives in New York City.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
7,111 (17%)
4 stars
12,595 (31%)
3 stars
13,648 (33%)
2 stars
5,221 (13%)
1 star
1,580 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,264 reviews
Profile Image for RandomAnthony.
394 reviews110 followers
October 13, 2008

So you want to be a successful memoirist/personal essayist? Follow these ten steps and wait for the book deals to roll into your mailbox!

1. Write about your upbringing in ways that make it sound charming in its quirkiness (e.g. the Vowell/Klosterman strategy), charming in its weirdness (the Sedaris strategy) or terrifying (the Burroughs strategy). Under no circumstances should you have normal, perceptive parents who were socially adept with no strange habits whatsoever. No one wants to read about that.

2. Write about high school and college, but make sure you don’t make your experience sound too fun or interesting.. Make sure you write about your social and academic struggles and/or humiliations so your readers can either relate and/or feel superior. Do not be popular at college or high school! This is the kiss of death. Make sure you paint yourself as kind of a loser.

3. Write about the shitty jobs you’ve had. Remember, some of your readers may have shitty jobs and want to be successful writers themselves. You have to give them the glimmer of hope that they, too, will be someday interviewed by Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”.

4. Write about religion but only from a distant “my family wasn’t that into it” or “my family was into it but I’m not now” perspective. Stating “I still go to mass every Sunday, yep, sit in the back pew” will kill your book deal.

5. Write about your family, of course, but choose a strategy (see #1) and stick with it. Make sure you are alternately embarrassed in front of and embarrassed by your family. Loving parents are ok as long as they’re generally clueless.

6. Write at least one chapter/essay as a mash note to New York City. If this can be combined with the shitty job (see #3) all the better. Make sure you refer to New York in ways people who have never been to NY will not understand (e.g. “I lived in the seventies”) but would like to pretend they do. Describe your small and crappy apartment. Extra points if you can work in a 9/11 reference.

7. Be gay.

8. If you can’t be gay, then address both the fact you have chosen your dates/relationships badly (e.g. dated strange, almost psychotic partners) and behaved poorly in other situations (e.g. blown it with the potentially perfect partner). Do not admit to having a healthy romantic relationship unless you catalog your previous poor choices and frame your current relationship within a lens of redemption (e.g. the Jancee Dunn method). Describe at least one sexual encounter gone awry.

9. Reference slightly obscure pop culture as much as possible. Bands, television shows, etc. all work. Your readers will recognize these references and think that if they write about, say, the first time they saw “Twin Peaks” then they too can be successful memoirists/essayists.

10. Include a few drug/alcohol experiences but do not get into sad, “I’m a drug addict" territory. That’s a different type of book (exception: Burrough’s Dry). Don’t forget to frame these experiences as more or less harmless but connected to #s 2, 3, and 8 above when appropriate.

And how does Ms. Crosley acquit herself? Well, she’s sort of like one of those hitters who either roll a grounder to the pitcher or knock it out of the park. The first few essays left me rolling my eyes and wondering if the book was worth finishing. Then, in rapid succession, “You On A Stick” (required reading for every woman who ever dreaded the “will you be my bridesmaid?” request, esp. from someone she doesn’t know very well), “Smell This” (about finding a small bead of poop on your bathroom floor after a dinner party), and “Lay Like Broccoli” (about the author’s return from the vegan desert) rendered the time spent with Ms. Crosley worthwhile. Still, I read I Was Told There’d Be Cake in just a few hours; so borrow the book from a friend or library as I would struggle rationalizing dropping fifteen bucks on such a quick read. I wasn’t wowed by most of the book although a few essays (at least by comparison to the bad ones) shined through as worthwhile. Pretty good, but didn’t rock my socks. Maybe next time.

(P.S. The author’s back cover pic is hawt.)
Profile Image for Sean.
5 reviews
July 9, 2008
First, I have to be fair-I only read about 3/4 of this book because it was all I could stand. Maybe the last 1/4 was amazing.

I found it rambling, uninspired, boring and not very funny. It sounded like the stories you tell your friends-your friends think the stories are funny because they know you. Maybe they even tell you that you're really funny and you should write all these stories down and publish them because you are so funny and your stories are so unique. But you know better. You know that only your friends will think your stories are funny and that they're not really all that different from any other creative type's silly family antics. This lady doesn't seem to catch on to that and she's not my friend so I just don't care about what happens in her fairly tepid life.

I don't know her personally. She's probably fun to hang out with. Or not. But the long winded, self-centered rambling is just too much in this writing. She wants the reader to know her, but I find there wasn't much to know or care about. Stick with Laurie Notaro.
Profile Image for Rachel.
376 reviews178 followers
November 17, 2020
I was embarrassed to have been reduced to the level of a child, embarrassed to have given her a homemade gift, embarrassed by how suddenly and indisputably unprofessional it seemed to give one’s boss a cookie in the shape of her disembodied head.

Crosley is a smart and witty writer.

Like many gatherings of essays the content is somewhat uneven in quality and (for me anyway) it’s rare to like them all, so I think the amount of good ones were well worth the read.

Side note: I like that in her blurb she has “wrote the cover story for the worst-selling issue of Maxim in that magazine’s history.” Because taking yourself too seriously is boring.
Profile Image for Jen.
15 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2008
I started writing a review 1/2 way through the book because I had a lot to say about Ms. Crossley. I'm posting the 1/2 way point review because I just couldn't finish the book.

I’m more then 1/2 way through “I Was Told There’d Be Cake”, a book of essays by Sloane Crosley. I started it Sunday, by this morning’s bus ride I’ve plowed through this book relatively easily. She’s a good writer. She manages to keep my ever wandering attention as I over stimulate myself on Muni with a coffee, my ipod and the pressing need to scan the bus for possible pick pockets. That, in itself, is impressive, as I’m never one of those people who can read on public transportation. I’m either caught up in the ‘pod or I’m completely passed out and drooling

I’ve felt the need to mention this book to both my sees-ter and to my boyfriend on the phone about how I’m almost done the book, but there is something about her, about this author, that feels unauthentic. There is this weird distrust I have for her. I read these stories, these essays about her life in New York City post graduation and I have flat out, after the first 8 page essay, decided that I do not like her.

I do not like her.

I read the first essay about her need to collect plastic ponies and how each one represented a failed relationship and then turned to the back cover of the book, took one look at her picture and noted her startling resemblance to my dear friend Miranda (who just got married in Mexico).

Miranda is pretty in a very universal way. Gay, Straight, Man, Woman, Cat, Dog, everyone is attracted to Miranda. A myriad number of my gay friends have noted that they would date her if they were straight. Couple the pretty with a crass sense of humor and a penchant for drinking beer for 8 hours straight and she’s the most sought after woman I know, well, until most recently now that she is married to Greg, who is also pretty in a very universal way.

They are an attractive couple. They’re the kind of couple you see having brunch on a Sunday morning, in their pajamas, their dark skin dewy and glowing with pretty. They’re the couple, when you are single, that you wished you were a part of.

Back to “Cake”. Sloane. Sloane looks like Miranda. I read her quirky piece about ponies and relationships and all I can see is Miranda. Miranda is skinny, dark skinned, long haired and quirky. She is weird in a very real way. One that doesn’t make sense, but sorta does. Sloane and the pony collecting? Doesn’t make sense. It feels forced. I don’t buy it for a second.

It is after this revelation on Sunday that I realize I am now caught in a situation where I see the movie before reading the book and now all I see are the actors playing their roles and not any real composite of ideas of these people that the author meant to portray.

Strike one. Against me. I did this to myself. I can’t blame the author. It’s not her fault she’s a doppelganger for one of my best friends.

After several more essays, one about the horrible boss ala ‘Devil Wears Prada’ or the less fluffy version ‘Swimming with Sharks’, I started to get annoyed. While she’s not perpetuating the “Carrie Bradshaw” syndrome, I really don’t need to know what it’s like to be young, single, living in New York City. If I wanted to, I could have done that. It would have been easy enough to move from Boston to NYC after college, get an office job and spend my time wondering if the purpose of my life is to look good, date the wrong men and steal office supplies from work. I feel like everyone knows what it’s like to be single in New York City now. You don’t even have to have done it, all you have to do is watch television or read books like this one, and you feel a familiar camaraderie with the author, yeah, I feel your pain sister.

But I don’t. I don’t feel your pain. I never wanted to live in New York and I still don’t and for some reason when I see or read something that is supposed to make me think that living in New York is the shit, the absolute end-all, be-all, my toes get all weird and curl under, my hands come to my head and scratch and I feel my brain ache. Stop talking to me. Stop talking to me people who think NYC is where all the coolness comes from. It’s not me. It’s never been me.

I think this reaction comes from living in Los Angeles, the dreaded West Coast red-headed step child. LA is supposed to be where the pretty is supposed to live. And people are pretty in LA. Totally. But those aren’t people. Those are Fembots.

But back to Sloane and ‘Cake’.

Strike Two. Against New York. I can’t handle.

Now faced with the bottom half of the book, the 150 pages ahead of me where the author can either make me feel better about all of this and I can walk away with a better understanding of why she had to do this to me in the beginning to get to a better place in the end. I do not feel like this will happen. I don’t trust it to happen, but I know I will ride out the remainder of ‘Cake’ and tuck it away in a bookshelf somewhere or give it to a friend so I don’t have to see it again. Not because of my complete hatred for it, as I do not hate this book, really, but because of the unsettling feeling it gives me.

I used to write personal essays. None of them include collecting ponies that signified relationships. None of them took place in New York City.

I was on the phone with my mother on Friday where she asked about the boyfriend and where he came from and what’s going on and I answered her questions honestly and succinct. She sounded pleased with my responses and her tone of voice came through showing her approval.

Until she busted out with: “Just make sure you’re making the right decisions.“
The conversation veered right off the Yellow Brick Road and into something right out of Nightmare on Elm Street.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Make sure you’re making the right decisions,” she said firmly with no humor whatsoever in her voice.

It was later on that it hit me that I seemed to have stopped writing because I’ve started making the right decisions.

At least ones that I believe are leading me in the right direction.

This has left me with very little to say as I live my quaint little life, work, sleep, eat, yoga. I’m not going to be writing personal essays about receiving a phone call at 3AM and heading out of my apartment in my pajamas to meet someone I know who is poison for me. I’m no longer going to have stories to tell about calling in sick to work because I still smell like tequila. I will no longer be peeing in the unisex bathroom at a gay bar looking at everyone’s penis’ because I can. I have not eaten questionable meat found in the fridge since I lived with Carleen and if that does not mark the beginning of the straight and narrow, I don’t know what does.

I’m all the more glad for it though. I’m relieved that all of that is pretty much over. I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore. It’s too much work to be in a shitty relationship. It’s a Herculean effort to stomach a tequila hangover these days. I’d rather sip my whiskey to stave off the winter chill that is July in San Francisco or consume enough beer to do the drunk foot shuffle straight to my bed to sleep off the crazy.

Strike three. Against…time. And life. And changes. It’s not Sloane’s fault that I am old and she is not. I’m left not liking her anecdotes because I’m no longer in my 20s making bad decisions. I’m no longer searching for some sort of identity, because I have one already. I know who I am. I know what I’m doing. I’m making a conscience effort to make the right choices because it makes life that much more easier. If I do not eat this ice cream bar I will be one step further from Type II Diabetes. If I do not consume this liter of Jameson in one night I will not throw up tomorrow morning. If I go to yoga, I feel better. If I eat at Burger King it will be Shitcapades 2000. If I talk to the ex, I’m asking for trouble and it’s too emotionally draining to deal with. I’d rather pour that emotion into things I love, like Jake, like my friends, like baking. I freaking love baking. It’s insane.

It only makes sense that I’m turning 32 this weekend.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,257 followers
April 29, 2018
Occasionally humorous, but the humor of the spoiled of upper-middle-class woes such as forgetting your keys, leaving your wallet behind, spending hundreds on a locksmith after locking yourself out of your Manhattan apartment, getting lice at summer camp, enduring an annoyed boss because you're a kid just out of an expensive college who has no real marketable skills.

Credit where credit's due, Sloane Crosley is a decent writer and a decent humorist. She can turn a good phrase now and then, enough to garner spot laughs through out. The problem is a lack of material worth writing about. A whole chapter on the old computer game The Oregon Trail seems excessive. This book feels like the author is just too young, lacks the meaningful life experiences needed to flesh out a book, and is stretching the hell out of what little has happened to her.

Perhaps the book's title is the author's way of saying she's aware of this book's "let them eat cake" laissez faire attitude. And to be fair and honest, I did get some laughs out of Crosley's essays. I'm sure there is an audience for them. I'm clearly not it.
Profile Image for Sharon :).
349 reviews32 followers
May 10, 2019
Thanks to all my Goodreads friends who had this book in their feed . ✔️ short stories in my 2019 reading challenge. This book was so funny the author is a trip. My favorite type of audiobook love when the author narrates. Quick and fun book!!!
Profile Image for Scott.
1,798 reviews130 followers
August 5, 2018
I was eager for a helping of Crosley's Cake after quickly burning through her very latest essay collection - Look Alive Out There, released in spring 2018 - earlier in the week while away on a brief vacation. I also really enjoyed the pleasant and similarly-styled Cake, which chronologically is her first book from back in 2008. Crosley again discusses various and unrelated topics - summer camp experiences, her first job after college, being a member of a wedding party, a health concern - with spot-on humor and occasional insight in fifteen distinct compositions. Seconds, please. (ha-ha)
Profile Image for R..
905 reviews113 followers
August 15, 2009
I found that each essay had, hovering in the background, an exquisite sadness. An aching. To belong, to have belonged. A desire to not fuck up despite a penchant for fucking up.

This book may be, on the surface, a collection of humorous essays; but a ghost, called Lost Opportunities, hovers beneath that glassy surface, knocking.

Longing to breathe.

Longing to breathe the air of a wider, gentler world and to drop the burden of the "Lost".

To be found.

Profile Image for Sophia Abbey-Kuipers.
36 reviews22 followers
February 7, 2020
One of the best essay collections I’ve read. My usual critique with essays is that they make me profoundly depressed, but these were engaging and lighthearted even when they touched on more difficult topics. phew!
Profile Image for kira.
63 reviews12 followers
April 28, 2008
What can I say?

I never intended to read this book. I probably never would have, had I not received it in a publicity mailing at work. The day it arrived, I was between books and just wanted something to read on the subway. So I did. And then I kept reading.

I tend to not like to read books by "successful" people around my age. If the books suck, I'm angry for wasting my time. Worse, if they're actually good, I'm angry that this person, who might as well be me, actually had the motivation and energy to write enough material for a book, get a book deal, and as a result be critically praised and read by thousands. The nerve! It completely invalidates my excuses of being too busy, too lazy, too scared, etc.

Anyway, Crosley's writing is not the most elegant I've ever read, but it's far, far from the worst(see my review of Smashed by Koren Zailckas). In the end, all that really needs to be said is yes, this book had me laughing out loud several times. And yes, I finished it in two days.

I wanted to hate this book and this author. But how can I hate someone who is so much like me? I am Sloane Crosley's ideal audience. We are about the same age and have similar backgrounds. I too moved to "the city" after college to work in book publishing. I get what she's saying. I empathize. There are SO MANY young women exactly like Sloan, and me, in NYC. (Don't believe me? Hang out in the lobby of a publishing company building for ten minutes or sign up for one volunteer project through any city organization.) I try not to think about it, because it makes me feel entirely unoriginal. It's almost enough to make me want to pack up my things and move to rural Montana. But really, what would that solve? I digress.

The line that really sold me is at the very end of the very last essay. She writes, "I was just like everyone else I knew: almost positive that there was something profoundly and undiagnosably wrong with me." Maybe she just threw that in for dramatic effect, or maybe she really means it. Either way, I bought it. And that's ME too, as well as just about every single one of my friends.

So, in conclusion, make me laugh, through in a few little nuggets of truth like the above, and I won't regret the time I spent reading your book. And really, that says a lot these days.
March 31, 2023

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

We're all in the midst of our own existential dilemmas and hearing someone write quirky little diatribes about their Devil Wears Prada-esque boss or the friend who left poop on their carpet can sometimes make us feel as though we aren't alone.

I WAS TOLD THERE'D BE CAKE isn't that different from the hundreds of other autobiographical essays out there, but Sloane Crosley does have a style that is all her own. Some of her analogies are creative and on-point. Not rip-roaringly hilarious, mind, but clever and unusual and amusing. Sometimes she reminded me of me. Other times she reminded me of the me I wish I was. The me who says that clever punchline when it's needed, and not five minutes later, after I've already walked away.

As pithy as Ms. Crosley is, the problem with collections like these is that there are always going to be some stories that just aren't as good as others, and bring down the collective quality of the book as a result. Apart from a few choice stories that really stood out to me, I found them blurring in my head almost as soon as I had read them, and it was difficult to suss out which story was which.

That's really the keystone of this problem: she just isn't memorable. Her stories lack that extra panache that makes them stand out. Jenny Lawson, with her funny sadness, sad funnyness, and taxidermied raccoons, is what Sloane Crosley dreams of being, but she just isn't quite there yet.

Soon, perhaps. But not now.

Honestly, though? If you're looking for a light, fun read written by a snarky and intelligent lady, I would recommend I WAS TOLD THERE'D BE CAKE. It accompanied me to work and various other appointments, and since the essays are only a few pages long, it made it easy to read them in quick, short bursts without having to stop in the middle of a segment (I hate that!).

3 stars.
Profile Image for christa.
745 reviews286 followers
April 20, 2008
this book isn't bad, but it isn't good either. it just is. most of the essays are about as quirky as your mom after two glasses of wine, putting her hand over her mouth and gasping about the 'sh-' word. sloane crosley is scared she will suffer an untimely death and whoever cleans out her apartment will find her stash of toy ponies. ... this is not really the stuff of shocking hilarity.

it's almost quaint in its lack of risk-taking. sloane crosley comes across as a sweet, self-depreciating, smart and witty -- but a far cry from david sedaris or sarah vowell, two writers her style was linked to in blurbs. [i should know better than to be fooled by blurbs. i know how they happen ... yet meghan daum's seal of approval did prompt me to buy this.] it is heavy handed in the PR direction: this is a woman who is not going to make enemies with this book of essays. and honestly, she comes across as very likeable. i'd read her blog.

some essays are better: the story of her first job; how she is a sushi-loving vegetarian -- this one is filled with the sort of punny humor i enjoy. being a bridesmaid for a woman she no longer knows -- also a good story that falls flat in the end.

i'm going to stop reading books shelved in the humor section and go back to memoirs. addiction memoirs, even.
Profile Image for Tea Jovanović.
Author 410 books687 followers
May 6, 2013
Dosadniju i pretenciozniju knjigu davno nisam držala u rukama... Ali sam zbog posla bila prinuđena da je pročitam... Jel' je čitao još neko?
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book649 followers
September 22, 2020
I really enjoyed listening to Ms. Crosley narrate this collection of snarky essays comprised of anecdotes from her life.

"Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there."

"Husbands are like tattoos; you should wait until come across something you want on you body for the rest of your life."
Profile Image for Kevidently.
269 reviews23 followers
September 5, 2019
I read Sloane Crosley's newest book of essays, Look Alive Out There, last year, and fell pretty hard for it. I love books of personal essays - give me Klosterman, give me Irby, give me Sheffield (seriously, more Sheffield, all the time). The book was funny, sardonic, a little cutting and a lot compelling.

At once, I began looking at her other books. Everyone - literally everyone who recognized Crosley's name - told me I had to read I Was Told There'd Be Cake. HAD to. It was a moral imperative. How dare I NOT have read it; me, a supposed reader! Further, how dare I read a DIFFERENT book by Crosley before picking up her seminal masterpiece? This is like owning Human Touch before buying Born to Run (GUILTY!)

So I finally read it, and I really liked it. But I'm very fearful that I fell for the hype machine here. In my opinion, Crosley's become a better writer. I Was Told There'd Be Cake was quite good, and I was especially drawn to the final essay, in which she talks about the possibility of having a rare-ish blood disease. (Without spoilers, I will say that a very similar thing happened to me, with regards to a potential heart attack.) I also loved her take on being the maid of honor for a bride she didn't know very well anymore; it takes on the whole "Bridezilla" thing from a fresh perspective, looking at friendships between women and how they morph and change. I had to skip much of the essay on Crosley working in a butterfly exhibit in a museum; my overwhelming motteophobia actually forced me to pull over to the side of the road and, shuddering with revulsion, skip to the next chapter.

Liking it wasn't the problem. It's that I'm comparing it to her later work, which I came into first, and which I liked more. While the essays in this one are very well-written and smart and funny, they feel like they were written at a bit of a remove; stories relayed from a close observer, rather than an active participant. There's nothing at all wrong with writing that way; I just missed the more intense internal focus of her later book.

Of course, she has a second book of essays, How Did You Get This Number, that I want to now read immediately, bridging the gap between the old and new (plus a novel! It's called The Clasp! I'll read a novel!) If you've never read Crosley, I'd recommend starting here and then branching out. I'm worried this review sounds negative, and it absolutely shouldn't. I Was Told There'd Be Cake is very, very good, and points the way toward even better work in the future.
Profile Image for A.
282 reviews106 followers
May 23, 2008
Sloane Crosley is similar to me and my friends in education, background, life experience, career trajectory, and the like. The big difference is she has a book deal, and we do not. As such, I tried to read this with an open mind and not hate her off the bat.

Turned out that was all an unnecessary gesture on my part, as even someone completely remote from her experience would realize she is one of the most talentless hacks to come along in ages. This book was unbearable! These "essays" (more accurate definition: 8th-grade reading level diary entries) were not interesting, not insightful, and almost unbearably badly written. Every minute I wasted reading them (read: skimming page after page hoping for some word that was worth stopping on) made me want to throw up. Truly one of the worst debuts of the year--which is saying a lot considering this is the same year that has already seen the premiere of Keith Gessen's execrable first novel.
Profile Image for Felicity.
278 reviews31 followers
July 9, 2008
This book is so awful, so awful I couldn't bring myself to finish it. Maybe I just missed the punch lines (I think these essays were meant to be humorous), but my overwhelming response to these essays was "So what?" Apparently, they are based upon Ms. Crosley's life--I hate to break it to her, but I just don't think her life has been that interesting. The final affront was an apparent joke in her less-than-humorous essay about a possible move to Australia (thank goodness for us Australians she never made it there)...after the teenage Ms. Crosley's plans for moving to Australia are dashed, she observes that "My Australian dreams had disappeared into the night like a baby in a dingo's jaw (72)." I'm sorry. She can make offensive comments about Australians all she likes--we probably deserve it. But offensive comments about Lindy Chamberlain and her daughter Azaria is another thing--hasn't Lindy Chamberlain already suffered enough? Just give it a rest people. Give the woman the peace she deserves. Wasn't it enough that the Australian media, the Australian public, and the so-called justice system destroyed her life? No, apparently some dim-witted twenty-something year-old in New York City still thinks it's funny to make jokes about the case.
Profile Image for Nikki.
494 reviews124 followers
May 21, 2010
The blurb on the cover compares her to David Sedaris. The blurb on the back compares her to Dorothy Parker. These people are out of their fucking minds. Sloane Crosley has a lot of interesting anecdotes in her arsenal, but she doesn't know how to tell them without boring the shit out of you.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
114 reviews405 followers
October 23, 2014
There is an essay exclusively about Oregon Trail. That alone would give this collection a 5 star rating, but Crosley effortlessly combines the oddity and selfishness of adulthood without being annoying or cold hearted. Very entertaining all the way through. There are some beautiful, hilarious gems in this collection.
Profile Image for Jennifer Stec.
165 reviews3 followers
April 10, 2008
It's always fun to find a book where you go, I wish i were friends with this author. She has a dry sense of humor, but like this morning on the train, laugh out loud moments as well. In a chapter on her nerdy Oregon Trail phase, "Like a precursor to the Sims, you were allowed to name your wagoneers and manipulate their destinies. It didn't take me long to employ my powers for evil. I would load up the wagon with people I loathed, like my math teacher. Then I would intentionally lose the game, starving her or fording a river with her when I knew she was weak. Eventually a message would pop up in the middle of the screen, framed in a neat box: MRS.ROSS HAS DIED OF DISENTERY. This filled me with glee."
Profile Image for Aaron.
61 reviews81 followers
June 1, 2008
It's hard not to blame David Sedaris for Sloane Crosley. I mean to use "blame" lightly - I don't think Sloane Crosley is a thing anyone should necessary be sorry for, but by popularizing the whole "my family is weird in a way that is eccentric but essentially without serious conflict" genre of self-data mining, he's opened the door for people like Crosley to tell very similar stories about their OWN harmless strangeness.

I suppose this is essentially livejournal lit - as a blog, Crosley would be pretty great. She's funny, occasionally hits the lucky longball, and doesn't take herself so seriously that the whole affair starts to feel (more than occasionally) like a bloodless exercise in self-promotion or a neurotic call for attention.

As a book getting national attention, it's much harder to parse why out of all the perfectly viable memoirs on mild neurosis floating around in cyberspace, this would be the one to be chosen for national attention. Easy to read, funny in patches, not at all special.
Profile Image for Candi.
Author 1 book12 followers
January 8, 2012
I gave this book a snarky review a few years ago that several GoodReads readers liked, but since reading the whole book (and maturing maybe just a tiny bit), I feel much more generous toward Crosley and her brand of innocently naughty humor.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
167 reviews35 followers
September 8, 2008
It's true that to enjoy "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," you have to be in Sloane Crosley's target audience, and it's true that her target audience is a fairly small group. Sloane writes for people just like herself... young professionals with a suburbanite upbringing, trying to make it in [insert industry here] in [insert big city here].

Sloane is a young publishing professional trying to make it in New York City.

Replace "publishing professional" with "lawyer" and replace "New York City" with "Washington, DC" and you've got me. I know Sloane Crosley's experiences because I basically lived them. The freakishly compelling summer camp with platform tents, decorated dining halls and promise-to-be-friends-forever-then-forget-about-you-on-September-1st camp friends? Check. Suburban middle school dances in clashing patterns? Check. A My Little Pony collection? Sadly, check, although fortunately I didn't move mine with me to DC and they don't all represent failed relationships. Oh, and Oregon Trail? Check. Oh, my goodness, check. So, yes, I found Sloane to be absolutely hysterical. Mainly because I basically AM Sloane.

"You On A Stick," her diatribe about being maid of honor in the wedding of her best friend from seventh grade, who she'd barely spoken to in a decade... well, I haven't directly had that experience, but I know others who have, so that one rang very true, and it was hi-larious. "Please. Le chapeau you have to make me, please."

"Christmas in July," her story about her bizarre summer camp... I loved it because I went to a camp just like it. Mine was even steeped in Native American lore, too. Unique? Nope, it was the nineties.

"The Ursula Cookie" was sidesplitting in its march toward office humiliation and doom. "The Pony Problem" made me laugh so hard that I had to interrupt my husband's football watching to read him the end.

And my absolute favorite of Sloane's witty creations - "Bring-Your-Machete-To-Work-Day," about the wonderful, brilliant Oregon Trail game. If you haven't played Oregon Trail, you won't get it. If you have, you'll read this story as I did: with tears streaming down your face. I tried to force my poor hubby to listen to me read this one on an Amtrak train. Unfortunately, I couldn't choke out the words to the story because I was laughing too hard. And then my glasses fogged up from laughing until I cried, and I had to put the book away. My hubs laughed, but more from seeing me so tickled than from the actual story.

And that's the real point of this review. If you're Sloane, or me, or one of the countless other young twentysomething women who were raised in the suburbs and now live, work, and try to find the humor in a major urban center, you'll get the ultimate kick out of these essays. If you're not a member of that fairly large but admittedly narrow demographic... stick to Sedaris.
Profile Image for Nicole.
91 reviews5 followers
January 27, 2023
I thought the essays were hilarious. The author and I seem to share the same sense of humor. I find that this book worked for me as a nice palate cleanser. I read one or two essays in between bigger books.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 3 books3,376 followers
March 25, 2010
Oh man, this book was so much fun. These essays are light without being inconsequential, funny without trying too hard, snarky without being cruel (mostly), and smart without being pedantic. Great, great little rants on the hell of being a bridesmaid, the shame of locking yourself out of your apartment (in your pajamas! before you've even had a cup of coffee!), the dirty secrets we keep in our apartments (first line of the first essay: "As most New Yorkers have done, I have given serious thought to the state of my apartment should I get killed during the day"), the horrors of being a personal assistant, the mind-numbingness of suburbia, and the worlds scariest insect (the Atlas Moth). She talks about friends drifting apart, volunteering at the Museum of Natural History, Channukah bushes, whether eating sushi is really cheating on your vegetarianism, and what to do when someone takes a shit on your floor. Did I mention these essays are deliciously fun? They are!

I know I like this especially because Sloane is, more or less, just like me. Her friends are just like my friends, her sense of humor is just like mine, her upbringing and career aspirations and ways of amusing herself -- mine, mine, mine. I have no idea if this would be fun for someone with totally different life experiences. But who cares? This is my review of my experience, and it was terrif.

The other thing I discovered while reading this (rediscovered, honestly, as I do every time I read essays) is that I am soooo much easier on essays than I am on short stories. Why is that? I'm not really sure. I mean, when I read short stories, they just always make me mad, for being too short, too flittery, not developed enough, and ultimately an unsatisfying waste of time. Essays though? Not at all! Even the shortest ones, even the most flippantly anecdotal (if they're well done, obvs), are enough for me. I feel like I should be drawing some kind of conclusion from this, but nah. I just really like essays, and I really like Sloane, and I really liked this book. Yay!
Profile Image for Andrew Barnes.
154 reviews1 follower
December 4, 2016
What an enjoyable read! The essay format made it easy to read and I felt oddly connected and able to relate with her slightly dry sense of humour!

I think everyone should read at least one of her essays at some point!
Profile Image for chantel nouseforaname.
628 reviews327 followers
June 8, 2022
Sometimes funny, sometimes excruciatingly boring.

There were also some moments of extreme clarity and relatability, like in The Ursula Cookie, an essay about losing your voice to a shitty boss who lures you in and then promptly sets to work to destroy you. I really liked that essay, it reminded me of being a younger woman cutting my teeth and paying my dues after college working for a mean ass b!tch of a woman, who taught me a lot about the importance of standing 10 toes down for yourself.

The essay The Height of Luxury was also great. Crosley perfectly illustrates that our parents had full lives, loves, and sometimes marriages before us! Crosley learning about the secret-not-so-secret former life of her mother was funny, sweet and relatable! There’s so much we may not know about our parents that can be exciting to learn if you open your eyes, pay attention and ask the right questions!

The rest of the essays were relatively forgettable. Intriguing during the reading process and nothing to write home about afterwards.
Profile Image for Katie Fitzgerald.
Author 4 books207 followers
October 5, 2021
This author has a different worldview than I do on many things, but on others, I could completely relate to her. The highlight of the book was the essay about being asked to be in an old friend's wedding despite not having much in common with her anymore. These essays made me laugh and really satisfied my craving for short-form nonfiction.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,264 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.