After making a name for herself in the (not boring, very hilarious) non-fiction world, Sloane Crosley’s The Clasp , which comes out in October, will make the essay writer a big name in the fiction world, too. On Saturday, Crosley spoke with the writer A.M. Homes at BookCon 2015, the book world’s equivalent to Comic Con where writers like John Green, Marissa Meyer, and Mindy Kaling speak on panels, conduct autographing sessions, and have the chance to interact with their hardcore fans.
Crosley’s panel introduced her forthcoming novel The Clasp, which the writer described as “two genres smushed together: a comedy of manners between three friends, and a light-hearted, madcap action-adventure.” Inspired in part by Guy de Maupassant's 1884 short story "The Necklace," The Clasp follows three college friends who reconvene 10 years after graduation at the Florida wedding of a former classmate. When Victor wakes up with a Xanax-and-champagne hangover on the groom's mother's bed, the older woman tells him the fantastical story of her ancestor's diamond necklace, which was lost during the Nazi occupation of Normandy during WWII. Victor, driven by desperation and boredom (who besides being recently fired is a hopeless human being in general), decides to track down the mysterious piece of jewelry. Kezia and Nathaniel follow, and so commences the aforementioned genre mash-up.
Crosley pulls the story off beautifully, thankfully never sacrificing the killer humor that made her essay collections I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number both critical and public successes. When asked about taking the leap from writing nonfiction to fiction, Crosley said,
You’re so confined as a writer when you’re writing non-fiction … so you kind of get to take the brakes off when you’re writing fiction. And then of course you get 100 pages in and you’ve given yourself enough rope to hang yourself, because everything is your responsibility, everything is your fault, you’ve created an entire world … it becomes like a Jenga set, where you’re like, ‘Oh, if I remove one thing, I’m in danger.’ Whereas with non-fiction you can always go back on the crutch of, well, that’s what happened … It’s really, really hard. But it’s fun.
Homes also asked Crosley how the story evolved, and how that process differed from the process of writing an essay.
The non-fiction's different because you can see the end as you're writing ... So sometimes, with essays, I would even have the last line in mind ... and with [fiction], it's the difference between seeing to the curtain [at the back of the room] and seeing to New Jersey ... There's a great Annie Dillard quote that I'm gonna butcher, but she talks about writing well, and she says to write well is like splitting wood ... if you aim for the wood, you're gonna miss. If you aim for the chopping block, you'll hit it. You have to look past the wood. I've never felt that so strongly as I did writing [The Clasp], and thinking that I have to hold onto the idea just enough to make it good, but if I hold on too tightly, I'm gonna suck all the life out of it.
Sadly, we're gonna have to wait until October to see Crosley put that philosophy into practice in The Clasp. But the writer did reveal that she has third collection of essays coming out after The Clasp, and a couple of ideas for second novel. Keep the Crosley goodness coming!