Sloane Crosley’s Cult Classic is witty, self-aware, and eloquently rendered. The novel follows Lola, a woman in her late thirties, as she maneuvers her half-hearted engagement, eccentric collection of colleagues from a psychology magazine, and the seemingly endless slew of ex-flames that she keeps running into. Lola’s smart–too smart to consider these run-ins with old boyfriends a coincidence. What she failed to predict, however, was who was behind these interactions and why they placed so much weight (and currency) in her past romantic escapades.
The plot gains more and more momentum the farther we delve into the cultish endeavors of Clive, the self-appointed psychology guru that Lola cannot help but be entranced by. Like all cult-leaders, Clive denies that his group, the Golconda, the abundance of infatuated followers, or the synagogue-disguised secret headquarters are attributes of a full-on cult. But the true nature of his secret society resides somewhere between meditative groupthink and the layers of social media that petrify the what-ifs of our expired relationships.
I, unfortunately, found the ending to leave a little to be desired. The majority of the narrative was incredibly engrossing and ultimately deserved a better finale. The plot plunges into the mysterious cosmic alignments between Lola and her exes, which we discover is a product of Clive and his followers’ mind-control. In the end, though, the climax flat lines.
Crosley’s originality in story conception almost makes up for some of the gaps in narrative substance. The story especially shines in its focus on our main character and the mental aerobics she performs to work through her underdeveloped emotional tendencies. Crosley’s underlining commentary on social media and how it has altered modern dating is sharp but forgivingly nuanced. Her contribution to the overarching conversation about human connection in the age of online relationships alone makes Cult Classic worth a read.
Also available as a CD audiobook.