Subjects Discussed: Marie Antoinette, caring about perception, Veganism, the personal essay as a series of impersonations and observations, on being perceived as “nice,” the text as a prism between author and reader, negotiating the balance between writer and publicist, putting on the “nice face,” assumptions of lying, Oregon Trail, being nice vs. being true, exuberance, imposing internal censorship, the harsh nature of the wedding essay, why things were cut out, David Rakoff’s Fraud, Roberto Benigni, issues that cut into identity, filtering candor, whether personal essayists “tell it like it is,” David Sedaris, defining the nature of truth, using composite characters and disguising real people, speculation and judgment, lax Judaism and free association, criticism through metaphor, the relationship between adjectives and specificity and keeping the floodgates open, inverting language, Twin Peaks, dealing with sentences in essays that contradict each other, on not being prepared to turn sixteen, the original version of the book set up at Harper, the role of Gawker in Crosley’s career, online etiquette, the elusive “they,” being beholden to the BlackBerry, and stealing wi-fi.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: In “Lay Like Broccoli,” you write, “Being a vegetarian in New York is not unlike being gay.” But I must ask you. Why care so much about how you are perceived? Because that’s essentially what this is all about.
Crosley: That specific essay or the whole book?
Correspondent: Well, that specific essay. But also the whole book. Because there’s a bit of hiding behind the essays.
Crosley: Well, is there? I think it’s more that clash between trying to grow up and trying to realize who you actually are once you become a grown-up. So I’m not actually hiding behind any specific concern I have about people’s perceptions, but more just trying to figure out who you are. It’s like you’re trying on different cells. I was telling someone the other day that my favorite part of In Cold Blood — I assure you this makes sense for an interview about a humor collection.
Correspondent: I’m sure. Go for it. Please.
Crosley: My favorite part of In Cold Blood is actually this tiny detail where he finds Nancy’s diary and he’s going through it, and obviously it becomes a huge part of the book. But he talks about the actual handwriting and the different various inks and the different colors she would use as she’s trying on different cells, as if to say, “Is this Nancy? Is this Nancy? Is this Nancy? ” Now granted, she’s what — sixteen at the time> So in an ideal world, I would have less colors of ink and different styles of handwriting to try on at twenty-nine years old. So when I say the thing about the vegetarian thing, and the vegan thing, it’s more observational than something I’m actually petrified with living with on a day-to-day basis.
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