A Mirthful Adventure set in Contemporary New York
Sloane Crosley is a very smart, literate, imaginative and entertaining writer. I can’t quite remember when I had so much fun reading a novel. Hmmm . . . Cervantes’ Don Quixote, maybe? Well, no matter. Crosly sustains her ribald sense of humor throughout the book, which is no mean feat.
This is an “only in New York, New York” story: the lifestyle, the pace of life, the young go-getters who (as Sinatra sang) want to make it here. The characters are not simply memorable but recognizable as they flit about in their Manhattan-ese ways. The twist in the story is their reappearances, but regarding that I cannot tell you more without spoiling the soupy mess they get themselves into.
But let’s begin with the title: Cult Cassic. Cult. Classic. Two separate words which mean entirely different things. Yet two words which coupled together are instantly on familiar ground, likely reminding you of certain movies like “Eraserhead” or “The Maltese Falcon,” or in this comparison perhaps Mike Nichols’ “Working Girl” starring Melanie Griffith. If so, that’s good. Even better, and perhaps closer to the mark, is the greatest of satirical cult classic series, “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” fondly called MST3K. Crosley riffs better than Tom Servo or Craig T. Robot ever did, with a lilt of self-deprecation that’ll stretch a permanent grin across your mouth as you flip pages looking for her next aspersion:
“The Lloyd Dobler nightmare for the new millennium.” (If you don’t remember Lloyd, where the heck were you holed up in 1989??)
“Even if I was only borrowing someone else’s certainty, it would become mine eventually.”
“Her eyes were a kind of accidental blue, the color of sink water after washing something navy in it.”
One more, in dialogue.
“A new means to personal salvation,” I said. “That’s the definition of a cult.”
“If anything, it’s the definition of a religion.”
“Let no one accuse you of aiming low.”
“Give me some credit, Lola.”
“Oh, I would,” I said, gesturing around us, “but you’re all stocked up.”
“It’s not a religion and it’s not a cult. Not in the traditional sense.”
“Why does it have to be a cult in any sense? What do you have against starting a podcast empire like a normal person?”
And so you now have learned several things about the story. Yes, there’s a cult and it’s embedded in a classical mystery, which is terrific fun. And the main character is named Lola, which in female baby names ranks 260th, behind Brooke and ahead of Miriam. But if you’re a Kinks fan, Lola ranks a whole lot higher.
What may also delight you is knowing Sloane Crosley twice has been a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. Way to go, Sloane. You rock. I really, really loved your novel. Pick up a copy of Cult Classic. You won’t regret it. Go. Go get it now. Go!