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Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley

Grief Is for People

by Sloane Crosley

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Quick take

With wit and poignancy, Sloane Crosley relates the roller coaster of grief trailing the death of her closest friend.

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    Writer's life


How do we live without the ones we love? Grief Is for People is a deeply moving and suspenseful portrait of friendship, and a book about loss that is profuse with life. Sloane Crosley is one of our most renowned observers of contemporary behavior, and now the pathos that has been ever present in her trademark wit is on full display. After the pain and confusion of losing her closest friend to suicide, Crosley looks for answers in philosophy and art, hoping for a framework more useful than the unavoidable stages of grief.

For most of her adult life, Sloane and Russell worked together and played together as they navigated the corridors of office life, the literary world, and the dramatic cultural shifts in New York City. One day, Sloane’s apartment is broken into. Along with her most prized possessions, the thief makes off with her sense of security, leaving a mystery in its place.

When Russell dies exactly one month later, his suicide propels Sloane on a wild quest to right the unrightable, to explore what constitutes family and possession as the city itself faces the staggering toll of the pandemic.

Sloane Crosley’s search for truth is frank, darkly funny, and gilded with resounding empathy. Upending the “grief memoir,” Grief Is for People is a category-defying story of the struggle to hold on to the past without being consumed by it. A modern elegy, it rises precisely to console and challenge our notions of mourning during these grief-stricken times.

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Content warning

This book contains a scene that depicts suicide.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Grief Is for People.
Grief Is for People



All burglaries are alike, but every burglary is uninsured in its own way. On June 27, 2019, at 5:15 p.m., I leave my apartment for one hour and come home to find all my jewelry missing. This is the front entrance of the story, the facts of the case. Container first, emotion second. As if by offering up an order of events, the significance of those events will fill itself in automatically. But that story ends before it begins, without ever really being told. The thief enters the story through my bedroom window. He scurries up the corroded metal steps of my fire escape. He lifts the screen, then the glass, crouching to make himself small. Into the stillness of my bedroom come his dirty boots, sinking into the white comforter. To be fair, he has no choice but to step on the comforter. The bed is flush with the window because it takes up half the room.

Once inside, the thief takes a total of five minutes and forty-one pieces of jewelry. Amid the otherwise unremarkable loot are my grandmother’s amber amulet, the size of an apricot, as well as her green cocktail ring, a dome with tiers of tourmaline (think kryptonite, think dish soap).

But let us pause here, before you get too turned around.

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Why I love it

Sloane Crosley is the heir apparent to our most beloved NYC scribes—a witty, indisputably cool New Yorker infectiously curious about the world around her. Her sharp pen can bring fresh insight and interest to any topic.

In Grief Is for People, we see Crosley’s intellect applied to grief and watch, heartbreakingly, as she tries to comprehend her dear friend’s death by suicide. She looks for clues, parallel threads between the loss of Russell and the coinciding burglary of her West Village apartment. She catalogs her missing objects and scavenges eBay for her stolen jewelry. She recalls her first encounters with Russell in the world of book publishing and their gradual transition from colleagues to friends. She reflects on how other people write about grief, and how the pandemic enveloped the world shortly after she fell into despair. If these all sound like disparate thoughts, at first glance, they are. But Crosley has woven an intricate, utterly precise web of obsession and longing as she strives to understand the magnitude of her pain, and struggles to imagine Russell’s.

How do we come to terms with grief? In Grief Is for People, Crosley beautifully articulates the difficult truth that there is no such thing as closure. Grief is a constant companion, a shadow, a physical presence. With beautiful, acrobatic language, Crosley has plumbed the depths of her own deep love and humanity in an unforgettable memoir that will hold you close.

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