One night in New York City's Chinatown, a woman is at a work reunion dinner with former colleagues when she excuses herself to buy a pack of cigarettes. On her way back, she runs into a former boyfriend. And then another. And . . . another. Nothing is quite what it seems as the city becomes awash with ghosts of heartbreaks past.
What would normally pass for coincidence becomes something far stranger as the recently engaged Lola must contend not only with the viability of her current relationship but with the fact that both her best friend and her former boss, a magazine editor turned mystical guru, might have an unhealthy investment in the outcome.
Cult Classic employs the same first-person style as her essays, which results in a more intimate dynamic between reader and narrator. Lola is observant, cynical and so self-aware it makes progress difficult — a watched pot refusing to boil ... Lola’s wit and savvy make her a genial narrator, but it’s her emotional honesty that makes her a strong one. Crosley’s writing is as funny as ever, with a great line or clever observation on nearly every page ... As in her essays, her fascinating conceits — entertaining and compelling in their own right — are the engines of the narrative, but her insights into contemporary life are the fuel ... The only slight misstep occurs at the conclusion, which is presented as a happy one but manages to be bleak instead.
Delicious, spooky ... The novel’s happenings are conceptual, but the feelings it inspires are pretty universal. There’s a thick ooze of malaise throughout, a pleasing sinking feeling of dread and desire and compulsion. The plot of Cult Classic feels less important than the writing — the story sags a bit in the middle — but Crosley’s prose crackles throughout ... The novel reads like a memoir — which makes sense, considering that Crosley is the author of three essay collections ... Her writing defines the diverse list of small grievances and indignities that come with trying to date men ... Reading Cult Classic is...a discomfiting experience that you can’t stop engaging in, like grinding your molars until they hurt in a good way. If you’ve had the recent displeasure of dating in New York, or dating in general, or if your past keeps coming back to haunt you, the book may give you déjà vu ... It’s a good thing Cult Classic is so funny, because otherwise it would be kind of bleak ... I’d perhaps not recommend this novel for anyone experiencing cold feet before a wedding. (Or maybe it’s exactly what I’d recommend; depends on the couple.)
Through Lola, Crosley wields language like a rapier, slicing off layers of self-delusion and self-doubt to find even more layers underneath. Lola needs to make some hard decisions about her spouse-to-be-or-not-to-be, but in order to do that, she must uncover the secret at the heart of her guru’s creation. Does Golconda, like Lola’s checkered past with men, carry within it the seeds of its own destruction? If it implodes, can she withstand the fallout? And will the universe call her back before it’s too late?