cover image Grief Is for People

Grief Is for People

Sloane Crosley. MCD, $27 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-60984-9

In this aching meditation on loss and friendship, essayist and novelist Crosley (Cult Classic) eulogizes her late literary mentor and best friend against the backdrop of the high-pressure publishing industry. At 25, Crosley applied for a job opening at Vintage Books. Russell Perreault, the then-37-year-old head of the paperback imprint’s publicity department, was charmed and offered her the job. When Crosley, who was hesitant to leave her current position at “a more commercial publishing house,” asked for a second interview, Russell shot back, “It’s like you’ve been admitted to Harvard but first you need a tour of the bathrooms.” From there, the two became fast friends as they faced down crises both minor and major, including the exposure of James Frey’s lies in his fictionalized 2003 memoir, A Million Little Pieces. By the 2010s, however, Russell’s light began to dim—Crosley stopped receiving invitations to his country house after his romantic life imploded, and changing workplace norms silenced his signature banter. On June 27, 2019, Crosley’s apartment was burglarized; exactly one month later, Russell died by suicide. Crosley elegantly links the two losses by explaining how her fevered desire to reclaim her burglarized items stood in for her inability to reclaim Russell. Her characteristically whip-smart prose takes on a newly introspective quality as she reinvigorates dusty publishing memoir tropes and captures the minutiae of a complicated friendship with humor and heart. This is a must-read. Agent: Jay Mandel, WME. (Feb.)