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In ‘Grief is for People,” Sloane Crosley mourns her best friend

Sloane Crosley is the author of "Grief is for People," a memoir focused on her best friend's death from suicide.
Courtesy photo
Sloane Crosley is the author of "Grief is for People," a memoir focused on her best friend's death from suicide.

Writer Sloane Crosley is known for her acerbic wit in essay collections like Look Alive Out There and I Was Told There’d Be Cake. Her newest book, Grief is for People, takes a different and darker turn, as she mourns the loss of her closest friend to suicide.

She starts the book a month before her friend Russell’s death, recounting the day a burglar entered her New York apartment while she was out and stole dozens of pieces of her grandmother’s jewelry. Crosley feels violated and angry, but also notes that there are no bereavement groups for stuff, because “Grief is for people, not things.” When Russell’s partner calls to tell Crosley her friend died of suicide, she realizes how true grief feels.

Crosley frames her book loosely around the unavoidable stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, and so on. But there’s nothing traditional about her approach or her treatment of the topic. Crosley balances sadness and humor while remembering her friend and trying to make sense of her feelings.

There are numerous nods to Joan Didion and Nora Ephron, along with insider scoop on the publishing industry. That’s because Russell was also Crosley’s colleague and former boss when she was a publicist at Vintage Books. It’s like, come for the grief memoir and get bonus insight on how the company handled the James Frey saga with Oprah. Crosley also recounts the isolating and eerily quiet first months of the pandemic, when her friend’s absence felt even heavier.

Grief is for People is a poignant and smartly written memoir that is sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced a personal loss.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.