Whether you religiously visit gossip blogs or occasionally pick up the latest People magazine, Sad Desk Salad is a must-read. Jessica Grose’s debut novel reveals the ups and downs of professional blogging in our media-savvy age of gossip and trash-talking behind the computer screen. For Sad Desk Salad protagonist Alex Lyons, the dog-eat-dog profession of online writing may prove to be too much to handle.
The novel follows Alex, an associate editor at the female-run online magazine Chick Habit, over the course of a week in which her world is turned upside down. With fickle co-workers and a demanding boss, Alex has always found it difficult to draw the line between her professional and personal lives. On a usual workday, an anonymous tipster sends a link to an R-rated video of a politician’s straitlaced daughter. Alex also discovers a hate-blog that bashes all Chick Habit employees—but mostly just Alex. As her life is shaken by these digital woes, she repeatedly lets down her closest companions, including her best friend and long-time boyfriend. Disproving the “sticks and stones” proverb, insecurities and guilt fill Alex’s head, causing her to put her most valued relationships at stake. Soon, Alex must decide how bad she wants success at Chick Habit. Will posting a racy video of a politico’s young daughter save her career—but simultaneously ruin the lives of others?
Grose, the deputy editor of New York Magazine’s Vulture website, is educated in the digital world due to her former positions at Internet magazines Slate and Jezebel. She uses her knowledge of the industry to tell a comedic, relatable tale that keeps you guessing until the final pages.