This week on The Maris Review, Sloane Crosley joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her new novel, Cult Classic, out now from MCD.

Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts.

In defense of single New York women:

I’m laughing because of the amount of realism that is steadily thrown into your face every day living in the city, in arenas that extend far beyond romance. You get up and you get out of bed and the city is like, alright, this is cute, let’s see if you can handle this. I mean, I almost got pissed on in the subway today at West 4th. But not intentionally. It was a sort of circular, naked motion. A lot of people almost got pissed on today.

So I feel like the idea of New York City women not understanding realism, I understand why people think that not about just New York but urban areas in general. We have so much choice and we have so much stimuli, and therefore we short circuit ourselves out of having a normal life. Esther Perel I am not, so maybe people are thinking about this, but yeah, in defense of single and formerly single New York ladies, we’re really working with what we’ve got and we’re really trying very hard.

On the not-so-magic magic of marketing:

The FSG marketing team will sometimes bat around words like “mystical.” They don’t say “magic realism” because if anyone is familiar with the roots of that and how you’re not supposed to co-opt it, it’s probably FSG. They have a good sense of literary history. But there’s this idea that there’s this wackadoo juggernaut that hits this literary comedy of manners. They keep talking about it like “and then a strange thing happens…”

I don’t know if I’ve lost my mind or if what it takes to make the book effective is that I need to be one of the brainwashed, but I truly believe that if I had the amount of money this organization in the book has that I could put you or any listener and someone they do not want to see in the same restaurant tonight. And it would cost me about a fifth of what it costs in the book. This is marketing, this is not black magic.

On avoiding old text messages:

There’s a bit where Lola talks about going through old text exchanges and that strange phenomenon of words that were supposed to become memories becoming emotions again. They become reanimated. And that person isn’t even there. So their words are not in conversation with them. They are artifacts of who they were. It’s almost like any writer who has been copyedited. Maybe you make some intentional choice—you decide to capitalize something, or you decide to do something weird with an em dash. Whatever it is you decide, and the copyediting department is going through and correcting them.

And so the first couple of times you think, oh no, I meant it, that’s fine. And then by page 50 you’re almost angry, as if they are in the room and have been listening to you. But they’re not in the room with you. And you’re thinking, didn’t you hear what I said? I’ve repeated myself so many times. Stet. Stet. Stet. That is the editorial version of the experience of reading old text messages, which I’m happy to say I don’t do. Only my character does that.

Recommended Reading:

The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford • Cassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker • Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark • Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk


Sloane Crosley is the author of the novel The Clasp and the essay collections Look Alive Out There and the New York Times bestsellers I Was Told There’d Be Cake (a Thurber Prize finalist) and How Did You Get This Number. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, she lives in Manhattan. Her new novel is called Cult Classic.

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