Hannah Horvath—Lena Dunham’s character on HBO’s “Girls”—famously declared, “I think I might be the voice of my generation. Or at least, a voice of a generation.”
But while the erstwhile Hannah never lived up to that sweeping statement, Sloane Crosley is getting close, consistently delivering since her bestselling 2008 debut essay collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake. With her hilarious and astute observations, Crosley’s writing has garnered comparisons to heavyweights like Nora Ephron and David Sedaris. Her latest collection covers everything from fertility to vertigo, and it carries a newfound heft that can only be gained with age and experience.
Like Sedaris, Crosley allows her essays to unfurl slowly and deliciously. Judging by the opening sentence of “If You Take the Canoe Out” (“The strongest impulse I’ve ever had to ride a baggage carousel was at the airport in Santa Rosa, California.”), I assumed that the essay would be about traveling. It sort of is, but it’s also about writing, marijuana and swingers.
The most personal essay in the collection may be “The Doctor Is a Woman,” in which Crosley recounts having her eggs harvested and frozen. “[O]ne day I was walking up my apartment stairs, flipping through my mail, when I came across a thin envelope with the cryobank’s logo,” she writes. “My eggs had never sent me actual mail before. Camp is fun. We are cold.” Once she’s endured the frankly horrifying process of attaining the eggs, Crosley is uncertain of her next move. “They are just floating fractions of an idea,” she writes. “I know that. But I had never seen a part of my body exist outside my body before. I felt such gratitude.”
Crosley’s writing crackles with wit and humanity. Look Alive Out There reaffirms her place as one of the most generous essayists writing today.