Sloane Crosley
Assoc. Dir. of Publicity, Vintage/Anchor Books
03:25

Celebrity and Profundity

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Crosley says there must be something under the surface.

Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley is one of New York's most beloved literary publicists and the author of a best-selling collection of essays, "I Was Told There'd Be Cake," which has been optioned by HBO. Crosley has written for Playboy, Salon, the New York Times, and the Village Voice, where she was a frequent contributor. She also wrote the cover story for the worst-selling issue of Maxim in that magazine’s history. She lives in New York City and is working on a novel.
Transcript

Question: Is it important for your writing to be profound?

Crosley:  I think it’s important to have something that’s beneath the surface, otherwise, you’re writing essentially an elaborate diary entry. I think profundity is in the eye of the beholder. Some of the essays I got were eliminated from the collection. There were a couple that I decided not to include because they didn’t have enough any universal application. Woe is me, I got a parking ticket, or some boy was mean to me. No one particularly cares but you can make people care about small significant details and sort of lend the entire universe to a tiny detail. There’s this sort of famed Buddhist meditation practice where you’re supposed to picture the entire world on the head of a pin and I feel like the only kind of meditation or stillness or non-neuroses that’s ever made any sense to me. That’s sort of what the essays try to do. Some of the critiques have been that some of them don’t do that, that some of them read a little bit too casual. I think when you’re writing personal essays, it can be difficult to assess out what seems profound to you because it’s not necessarily intellectually profound; it’s sort of emotionally profound. So if you’re just sort of combing through it, it’s what speaks to you or what doesn’t.

Question: How do you handle criticism?

Crosley:  It’s funny. I’ve spent I guess about seven years in total encouraging my authors not to pay too much attention to the critics, that all press is good press. Book publicity is very different than any kind of publicity in the fact that I have friends who work in music and film publicity and it’s much more defensive, whereas ours is much more “Please God, Mr. Short Story Writer go commit a felony so I can get you some press.” It’s very difficult. So just to be written about is a feat in itself and then I guess you worry about the tone second. I think I have luckily taken a little bit of that to heart. The criticism hasn’t been too harsh or I don’t see. It because they’re personal essays, I think if I let it all in thoroughly, it would be a critique of me as a human being, so it’s very easy to look at it and think a lot of the book reviews have been assigned to people who are slightly younger or my age and I have been more interested to see the reviews by reviewers who I know who have been doing it awhile and are really reviewing it as a book, as opposed to as an extended diary entry that they could’ve written if only they had had a couple more Red Bulls after work. So it’s pretty easy to slough off but I think it’s important to let some of it in and some of it’s been really helpful. I didn’t expect that. I expected just to be worried about getting press and hopefully getting the book out there and getting people aware of it and some of the critiques have been actually really useful, so that was a pleasant surprise.


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