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Look Alive Out There: Essays    by Sloane Crosley Amazon.com order for
Look Alive Out There
by Sloane Crosley
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2019 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Sloane Crosley's Look Alive Out There: Essays is an entertaining book. Even when she's telling us about serious events in her life, she still manages to inject humor in her account. She tells us about mundane events in her apartment building, which somehow don't seem so ordinary after she finishes her essay. She travels around the country, sometimes to satisfy a curiosity and sometimes because she's been asked to do an interview or look into a strange situation by an employer. She can be relied on to find out what's going on and tell us about it with all the necessary details and a few laughs.

My favorite essay was The Grape Man. At one time, Sloane lived in an apartment above an older man who had turned the small plot of land attached to his apartment into a real garden. She explains at the beginning of the essay that the gardens of garden apartments in New York were, in her experience, never a place where anything grew except for weeds coming through cracks in the concrete. However this garden was different: 'a wall-to-wall garden of flowers and topiaries, of vegetable trellises and canopies of vines.'

He warns her about the grape vines, telling her to let him know if they give her any trouble, which she finds amusing until the vines cover her windows and block all the light. She manages to hack out holes so she can see out, and when he encourages her to at least eat the grapes, her reaction is, 'Eat them? Grapes that had come from city soil and rested on the same brick wall from which my air conditioner protruded? Oh, no thank you.' But she has promised him, so she finally tastes them and finds that 'they taste as awesome as candy.'

In Wheels Up, she's tricked into giving up a desperately needed taxi to a man accompanied by a woman in a wheelchair who doesn't get into the taxi. Up the Down Volcano takes her to an altitude in Equador that's far too high for someone from sea level to attempt without medication and a couple of days of acclimation. In other essays we hear about her unfortunate bout with vertigo, strange and amusing encounters with friends and family, and what happens if someone forgets or neglects to pay a fee for a domain name and it's taken over by someone wanting to sell it back for an outrageous amount.

This collection of essays made me want to read others by this author, and maybe, after I'm done with them, read them all again.

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