BookBrowse Reviews Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Look Alive Out There

Essays

by Sloane Crosley

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley X
Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2018, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2019, 256 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Sloane Crosley's characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back in Look Alive Out There, but with a newfound coat of maturity.

After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane Crosley is back to the form her readers know and love best: the personal essay. Crosley is a former book publicist whose first book, I Was Told There'd Be Cake (2008), explored the indignities of working, dating, and simply surviving in New York City in one's twenties. Here in her new collection she continues to interrogate many of the same themes.

But there's a twist: Crosley, who was something of a wunderkind back in 2008, is now in her mid-thirties, and consequently several of these essays touch on – at least obliquely – growing up and growing older, while surrounded by a city that is still equal parts maddening and beloved.

In the collection's closing essay, "The Doctor Is a Woman," for example, Crosley goes to visit an "intuitor" (similar to a psychic) after she's convinced she's had a brush with the supernatural. The intuitor's immediate assessment – "You will have many children" – throws Crosley for a bit of a loop, and results in her decision to freeze her eggs, all the while acknowledging her deep ambivalence toward motherhood, and, well, toward children in general. Elsewhere, she acknowledges the passage of time through charming stories of her elderly neighbors and her elderly relative who was once an infamous porn star but now, when Crosley interviews him, is full of regret and relationship advice for her: "You don't just stop being who you are when you reach a certain age…The life you're living now is your actual life, the habits you have now are your actual habits." In other essays, her own physical frailty reminds Crosley of the body's failings, such as when she endures a crippling bout of vertigo or when she foolhardily attempts to climb a massive volcano despite having neither training nor the proper gear. And, in "Outside Voices," she takes on the role of neighborhood curmudgeon as she bemoans an entitled local youth and the loud company he keeps.

Crosley is at her best when she is making wry comments about the city she reluctantly loves – "It had occurred to me that murder was more of an option than moving. A true test of a New Yorker if there ever was one" – but she also excels at writing about what happens when a New Yorker ventures into unfamiliar territory, like northern California or southern France. An essay about a cameo on the TV show Gossip Girl may seem slightly dated at this point, but a harrowing (and awfully funny) account of having her website domain name held hostage by a ruthless "domainer" is all-too-relevant.

Some of the pieces here are mere vignettes, tiny moments of observation or connection that span only a page or two, while others resemble longer journalistic pieces in which, inevitably, Crosley herself is the hapless protagonist even as she investigates the capriciousness of modern life. Look Alive Out There is sure to satisfy the long-time fans of her witty, sardonic personal essays while her new maturity will also gain her new ones.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in April 2018, and has been updated for the April 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Cotopaxi - Ecuadorian Volcano

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Black Sun
    Black Sun
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Reading the first book in a series is always difficult because readers know that, by definition, it ...
  • Book Jacket: Somewhere in the Unknown World
    Somewhere in the Unknown World
    by Kao Kalia Yang
    Resettled refugees are mostly invisible. Their needs are rarely publicized and their struggles are ...
  • Book Jacket: The Orchard
    The Orchard
    by David Hopen
    The protagonist of David Hopen's first novel, The Orchard, is 17-year-old Aryeh Eden, a Brooklyn boy...
  • Book Jacket: What Are You Going Through
    What Are You Going Through
    by Sigrid Nunez
    Shortly into What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez, it becomes clear that the narrator is ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls
    by Ursula Hegi

    Set on a German island in 1878, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.