Where Crosley’s first collections were dense with zingers made to deliver laughs, the most memorable lines in this one are built to break hearts. That reflects a similar shift in the author’s storytelling priorities: Crosley has changed focus from the mild absurdities of day-to-day existence to quiet but universal devastations ... Crosley remains inexorably funny, even as she uses her life and the lives she encounters to take on the heavier issues of aging, loneliness and mortality. Fans of Crosley’s signature humor — a blend of upbeat and offbeat self-effacement — will not be disappointed ... Look Alive Out There preserves Crosley’s instinct to observe minutiae and uncover answers to universal questions, while introducing a new willingness to acknowledge that sometimes stories don’t end with such neat answers.
I was beyond grumpy when I began reading Sloane Crosley’s third collection of essays, Look Alive Out There — which, it turns out, was exactly the right frame of mind in which to pick it up: within moments, Crosley had charmed me out of my bad humor ... Crosley’s jokes are simultaneously sharp and warm: the sharpness is directed at her surroundings, while the warmth is toward us, the reader. She invites us in ... The ways in which the collection might be called 'uneven' manifest on both the macro and the micro level: incisive passages are sometimes followed by ones that are harder to follow, and zingy observations are occasionally undermined by jokes that don’t work quite as well ... Yet the hilarity with which Crosley describes her uniquely urban plight is undergirded by pathos ... All I know is that after I read the last line, I teared up. I needed that as much as I’d needed to laugh. Look Alive Out There let me do both
By pursuing her tales of woe beyond riffs and rants, Crosley elevates these foibles above the anecdotal ... Sanctimony is toxic to personal essays, and Crosley wields its antidote, self-deprecation, with the skill of a practiced EMT ... Crosley's best essays combine her sparkling verbal facility with a willingness to expose and explore more personal issues ... There are several negligible pieces whose inclusion hints at a desperation for material, but her two ventures into personal medical history are keepers ... She has that rare ability to treat scrapes with sardonic humor and inject serious subjects with levity and hijinks with real feeling — a sort of unlicensed nurse to our souls.