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Sloane Crosley mourns her best friendExBulletin

Sloane Crosley mourns her best friendExBulletin


Grief is for People by Sloane Crosley

Between 2008 and 2018, Sloane Crosley published three collections of personal essays as lively and tart as Granny Smith apples.

She often dined out with her own weaknesses, including the constant challenge of keeping her belongings together, keys to her apartment, wallets and lighters. She also touched on more serious topics, such as her mixed feelings about remaining single and childless into her 30s.

In Grief is for people, In her first full-length nonfiction book, Crosley delves much deeper into the greatest pain she has known: losing her best friend (and former boss) to suicide in July 2019. Her new book is a meditation on loss and the grief that combines his verbal eagerness and biting wit with moving descriptions that capture the pain of sleepless nights during which “the hole in my heart was like a wind tunnel that whistled until dawn.”

His friend was Russell Perreault, whom Crosley identifies in this book exclusively by his first name. An advertising executive at Knopf's Vintage, Russell hired Crosley in 2004, when she was 25 and he was 37. Grief is for people offers an insider's account of the role of publicists in publishing, an industry that has changed markedly and not for the better during Russell's decades of “resurrecting literary lions, keeping them alive in the press.”

Although Russell wasn't as difficult as one of Crosley's first bosses (whom she hilariously skewered in I was told there would be cake), he was not an easy person to work for. “He was a great mentor as long as nothing resembling patience was expected,” she writes. He had a “brutal management style” and “no facility for office politics.” In the years before he left publishing to write full time, he taught him how to get the attention of authors and how to handle crises like the mess that arose around the launch of his paperback James Frey, factually questionable. A million little pieces.

But in the early years of their working relationship, Russell, whom she describes as “pathologically social and abrasively generous,” invited Crosley and other aides to the Connecticut home he shared with the man whom she calls her “long-time partner.” (A quick Google search reveals Perreault's husband, Reed Maroc.) Swimming, lounging by the pool, barbecues and thrift shopping at local flea markets were on the agenda until the weekend's house parties. end end abruptly, without explanation. Crosley assumes Russell's partner had decided he'd had enough.

Over the years, Russell and Crosley became so close “that there was no light between our professional and personal lives and we didn't see how it could become a problem.” Oddly, Crosley doesn't question what such closeness to her boss and another man's husband said about her or him. On weekday evenings, when Russell was in town and his partner was in the country, they attended publicity events, operas, and dinners together. Their texts were full of lively repartees. He was the dedicatee of his 2018 book, Look alive there.

One of the most difficult writing decisions is knowing where to begin a story. Crosley chose to begin her tale of grief a month to the day before Russell's death, when a thief entered her West Village apartment through her bedroom window via the fire escape while she was making a brief race. The thief made off with 41 pieces of jewelry, including an amber amulet and a domed tourmaline cocktail ring, both of which Russell admired and both of which were part of her minimal inheritance from a grandmother with whom she never met. wasn't close. “All burglaries are alike, but each burglary is not insured in its own way,” she quips.

Crosley is surprised at how upset she is by this theft and violation of her personal space. She comes to see it as a harbinger of the much more devastating sense of loss that followed Russell's death. She is struck by the fact that, just as there are no “bereavement groups for thing” because “grief is for people, not for things” there is no way to “play grief in advance.”

Crosley fails to get her beloved friend back, but as her proxy, she becomes obsessed with finding and recovering some of her stolen jewelry. These scenes recall his story in Look alive there of her risky dealings with the shady character who held her for ransom after stealing her website's domain name and primary email address.

Grief is for people East loosely structured on the stages of denial of grief, bargaining, anger and depression. Crosley recounts his attempt to understand his losses. “People like Russell, and people like me now, we don’t know where the sadness lies,” she writes. Like Joan Didion, she turns to literature to elucidate William Styron, Kay Redfield Jamison, Albert Camus, George Sand, as well as Didion. (She doesn't mention Sarah Manguso The gardians, another memoir about losing a close friend to suicide.)

Confronting her complicated friend in the pages of this elegiac book, Crosley holds on to what she can. The result constitutes a remarkable addition to the literature on grief.




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