Friday, May 23, 2014

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

by B.J. Novak
Alfred A.Knopf, 2014. 276 pgs. Fiction

I checked out B.J. Novak's (a writer for the comedy show The Office and actor) book mostly expecting it to be similar to the other comedy writer memoirs I've enjoyed like Mindy Kaling's book or Tina Fey's Bossypants. However, I was not prepared for the depth, range, and in some cases brilliance of Novak's collection of odd little stories. None of the stories are in any way  memoir, but instead feel like a book of modern fables. The style is spare, wry, intelligent, and surprisingly touching in some stories; and Novak's comedic timing is genius. He is able, in these stories, to create something I found to be reminiscent of David Foster Wallace, Vonnegut, and Stoppard with his own unique voice.

I continually found myself laughing out loud as I read, and often in the same moment being rather astonished by the clever insight to the human experience Novak attained. There was the woman on a blind date with a warlord, a rematch of the tortoise and the hare race, and the brilliant poet turned translator who embodies the postmodern experience.  I wound up reading much of the book out loud to my husband who claims to 'not like' fiction, and he too found the stories very clever and enjoyable. All in all this is a surprising and very entertaining collection of stories that left me hoping that Novak is already working on his next collection.


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