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Reviews of Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

Cult Classic

A Novel

by Sloane Crosley

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley X
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2022, 304 pages

    Jun 2023, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Chloe Pfeiffer
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About this Book

Book Summary

Hilariously insightful and delightfully suspenseful, Cult Classic is an original: a masterfully crafted tale of love, memory, morality, and mind control, as well as a fresh foray into the philosophy of romance.

One night in New York City's Chinatown, a woman is at a work reunion dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And...another. Soon nothing is quite what it seems as the city becomes awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past.

What would normally pass for coincidence becomes something far stranger as our heroine, the recently engaged Lola, must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned mystical guru, might have an unhealthy investment in the outcome. Memories of the past swirl and converge in ways both comic and eerie, as Lola is forced to decide if she will surrender herself to the conspiring of one very contemporary cult.

Is it possible to have a happy ending in an age when the past is ever at your fingertips and sanity is for sale? With her gimlet eye, Sloane Crosley spins a wry literary fantasy that is equal parts page-turner and poignant portrayal of alienation.


Our dinner was winding down in Chinatown when I got up to get cigarettes. This was more about giving myself something to do than satisfying a craving, unless you count the desire to take a break from other people as a craving. I don't smoke, not officially. A significant portion of my friends would express surprise to see me smoking at all. I also never smoke the whole thing, opting to leave a trail of crushed paper flutes in my wake. I sometimes wonder how this aborted indulgence reads to the naked eye, aside from registering as litter. I fantasize about other people's fantasies, about cars that arrive earlier than expected, sweeping me off to some glamorous event. Sometimes I go darker. I think of kidnappings, of vans, of men in ski masks tossing me behind a steel partition. The traces of saliva on the filter—this is how the identifications will be made. Alas, the unlikelihood of being yanked off the street in downtown Manhattan kind of declaws the idea. But it beats vaping....

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Cult Classic isn't as cynical as some contemporary novels about youngish, often millennial women succumbing to the dark forces of social media, capitalism or general misanthropy. Lola isn't depressed so much as confused. Social media enables her worst tendencies but doesn't ruin her life. People describe her as cynical, but they just don't know her that well. Indeed, Cult Classic is very much a conventional romantic comedy, with a faint love triangle structure: Lola is choosing between Boots, the safe option who loves her in a way that is alternately scary and borderline unattractive, and Clive, who is described as more physically and emotionally arresting for Lola (even if half the time the effect is "disgusting" and "repellent"), and represents the ultimate "what might have been."..continued

Full Review (982 words)

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(Reviewed by Chloe Pfeiffer).

Media Reviews

The Seattle Times
[A] sidesplitting novel that serves both as a critique of surveillance capitalism and a redemptive (yet grounded) love story.

New York Times
The novel's happenings are conceptual, but the feelings it inspires are pretty universal. There's a thick ooze of malaise throughout, a pleasing sinking feeling of dread and desire and compulsion. The plot of Cult Classic feels less important than the writing — the story sags a bit in the middle — but Crosley's prose crackles throughout.

The Washington Post
Crosley turns her satirical eye toward love in a time of searchable options, of data trails, of Instagram-enforced remembering, of an always-present past…The cultlike quality of companies offering camaraderie in lieu of livable wages is an ideal subject for Crosley, who skewers the setup but regards those who fall for it warmly.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Crosley offers a witty and fantastical story of dating and experimental psychology in New York City...Crosley has found the perfect fictional subject for her gimlet eye.

Like your favorite rom-com meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...Crosley casts a spell with lightning wit, devilish dialogue, and walloping truths about how little reason there is to anything resembling love.

Author Blurb Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less
Did the comic romantic thriller exist before Sloane Crosley, or has she invented it? Either way, Cult Classic is a classic. Funny, suspenseful, unputdownable, here is one of America's wittiest writers at her best. A pleasure on every page.

Author Blurb Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
The witty, improbably propulsive rom-com you didn't know you were waiting for - and just the sparkling, slightly sinister love letter to New York City that New York City deserves. An effervescent delight.

Author Blurb Raven Leilani, author of Luster
Cult Classic makes an uproarious time of romantic carnage. Crosley captures the brutal mirror of past love, the slow creep of ambivalence into dread, and the sense that a detour can easily become a life.

Reader Reviews

Sk Farid

Good story.

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Beyond the Book

It's Raining Men: René Magritte's Golconda (1953)

Golconda by René Magritte, a painting of many men in bowler hats and overcoats in the air against a blue sky In Sloane Crosley's novel Cult Classic, protagonist Lola is swept up in an experiment run by a secret society called the Golconda: The society's leader has manufactured a way to induce many of Lola's ex-boyfriends to appear, one at a time, in downtown Manhattan, so that she can confront them and achieve closure. The society is named for the painting Golconda (1953) by René Magritte, which the leader has on loan in his conference room.

Magritte was a Belgian artist and one of the more prominent Surrealist painters. His most famous paintings are probably The Son of Man (1946), a self-portrait showing a man in a bowler hat, his face obstructed by a hovering green apple (one of the most iconic images of the Surrealism Movement), and...

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