the archivist July 29, 2022

Cult Classic
A Novel
Sloane Crosley
306 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (MCD)
Publication date: ‎ June 7, 2022

From the publisher:

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.

MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK of 2022 by Glamour, W, Nylon, Fortune, Lit Hub, The Millions, and more!

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. 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 the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but with 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 comments:

There are very few authors who get to jump the queue in my TBR. There are very few books I’ll round up a 4.5 to a 5 star rating for. But Sloane Crosley is that writer for me.

The premise was interesting–is the protagonist, a late-30s New Yorker, just having cold feet about getting married whilst running into ex-boyfriends around town, or has her charismatic ex-boss actually started a cult with her as its test case? Lola is avoidant by nature, which I totally relate to, but it did feel a little strange how little we learned about her family of origin or non-work friends in the context of her troubled relationship history. Not to give too much away, but I was actually surprised by the ending–I had fallen for the 11th hour red herring, and thus was not seeing the forest for the trees. However, there were some threads that were not tied up (what about the ring and the shelf that fell down? Were there no consequences at work for Lola’s downward spiral?), so as noted above, this is a 4.5-star read for me.

There are some stunningly beautiful passages–I was highlighting away on Kindle. I’ll leave you with just this one:

My worries were more abstract yet more pernicious. I worried about the betrayal of memory and belief. I worried my former love life was a bomb waiting to go off or, worse, that it would never go off. That I would wake one day, having buried the past so well I’d find myself unrecognizable, having moved to a city I hated, slowly losing touch with my friends, then with the culture at large, until the only books I read were the ones I read about in nail salons, the only art I knew was presented to me through my phone, and the only plays I saw were the ones that had been adapted for the screen. And I’d have to pretend there was nothing wrong with this because there was nothing wrong with this. Not for that version of me. But is this what all my romantic dramas had been for, their natural conclusion? A life of palliative television?

Find a copy on Amazon, Bookshop, or your library.

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