There are few writers that grab my attention quite like Sloane Crosley. She’s a psuedo-vegetarian, essayist, fashionista, and just a super cool chick (but not quite like the “cool girl” discussed in Gone Girl).
I was first grabbed by I Was Told There’d Be Cake, a collection of humor essays recommended to me by a friend (and purchased during my last days of working at Border’s Booksellers). The following Christmas, I received her other book, How Did You Get This Number? I immediately started following her other work, plus her co-founded blog Sad Stuff on the Street. I was so thrilled that she decided to venture into publishing fiction!
The Clasp is about three college buddies in crisis in their 20’s who reunite for a mutual friend’s wedding in Florida. Victor is an Adrian Brody look-a-like who was recently fired from his job at a search engine start-up. Kezia works for a jewelry designer with a boss who seems modeled after an edgier Miranda Priestly. Nathaniel lives in LA, trying to make it as a screenwriter, health nut, and hipster ladies’ man.
Victor wakes up the morning after the wedding, and steals a sketch of a necklace from the groom’s mother’s bedroom. He believes the necklace that inspired the sketch is in France, and may have inspired the Guy de Maupassant short story, “The Necklace.” While Victor goes to France on a hunt to find it, Kezia and Nathaniel make their way to France, for other reasons, and challenge their assumptions about their relationships and what they want in life.
Now, let me preface that I don’t have to like the characters in a book to enjoy the book I’m reading. In fact, sometimes a really un-likable character can help you reconcile and learn from some not-so-great parts of yourself. Despite my true love (and I do mean LOVE) of Crosley’s essays, this book just didn’t do it for me. Here’s why:
- The first 2/3 of the book is just…boring. It was the first time in a long time I had to push myself to finish a book. It gets a little better towards the end.
- The characters are not developed. For example, towards the beginning of the story, Nathaniel learns he has a not-serious heart condition. He reflects on the symbolism of it for about 1 page, wondering if this is why he has difficulty loving others. Then….that’s it. Both issues are maybe mentioned one other time, and without blending everything together. It’s like getting a hole in your jeans, and trying to sew it back together with thick yarn and big gaps in between. You’re better off just keeping the jeans “as is” and moving on.
- The mood was not consistent. There was a continuing fluctuation of “good humored reunion” vibes, with “melancholic quarter-life crisis.” Even at the end, I didn’t know whether the characters were sad about their unresolved personal questions (about life, love, careers), or if they felt they came out of their adventure in France stronger than before.
- The characters are unlikable. Like I said, this does not exclusively make me dislike a book, but I felt it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I know Crosley has the chops for a novel. Maybe this is just growing pains before she writes a really well-developed, enjoyable novel. I will be eagerly waiting for her next piece, but until then, I will not be recommending this one.
Rating: 2/5 stars