Friday, April 4, 2008

I Was Told There'd Be Cake

By Sloane Crosley
A review of a review

I can't tell if I want to read this or not. From the review I just read, I'm vaguely irritated, but also compelled, by the book. I half wonder if it is the review itself that annoyed me, or the idea of this book. Let me share my observations. (The following quotes come from the article "I Was Told There'd Be Cake": Savvy, funny musings of a 20-something By Haley Edwards; Special to The Seattle Times, published 4/4/08)

First there's this tidbit. The reviewer says that the book is funny, but she's not sure why. "Maybe it's because Crosley, a 20-something New York City girl, is just like us. She grew up in a middle-class, middle-income family in the plain vanilla suburbs." Yeah, just like you, maybe. Does this mean that the rest of us won't think it's funny?

On the other hand, how can I resist inside jokes that I actually get? "In one essay, Crosley writes that a certain girl 'looked cooler than Jem and her Holograms.'" And... "Crosley masterfully re-creates the Millennial generation's coltish obsession with the computer game 'Oregon Trail.'... Crosley would name one of her characters after her algebra teacher, who she 'loathed,' she writes. '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 dysentery. This filled me with glee.'"

(side note: "Millennial generation's coltish obsession"? Huh? Sure, I was obsessed with My Little Ponies. The obsession with "Oregon Trail" is surely more cultish than coltish. Ok, I'll stop being snarky.)

So you can see my dilemma. I may have to read this book, just to see if it's the book or the review that bothered me.


Lien said...

Ah. I think maybe one of the things is that those inside jokes are *presented* as inside jokes, but actually aren't. Inside jokes are ones where a few people get because they have a history together. Everybody who grew up at a certain point of the '80s/'90s know who Jem is. That's not an inside joke.

Possibly the review/book is annoying because they want to you to like them and think they are your best friend, but actually they are just another 20-something person out there, who may have absolutely nothing in common with you except age.

jacqueline said...

altho I do feel like a middle-class person who grew up in vanillaville, I would NOT say I had engendered any obsession with the game Oregon Trail.

I was forced to play the "game" in elementary school on Apple II Cs during "pluck on computers so you aren't scare of them" sessions, and I'd have to say:

(1) we were never given enough time in the computer lab to actually play a full game, and

(2) I always lost. randomly.

That said, I think I agree with you that the reviewer is a putz, and that the book sounds worth reading.

Also, as a final note: I LOVED reading this blog. Yay with the snarky!!