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One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385351836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385351836
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (266 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Novak’s high-concept, hilarious, and disarmingly commiserative fiction debut stems from his stand-up performances and his Emmy Award–winning work on the comedy series, The Office, as writer, actor, director, and executive producer. Accordingly, his more concise stories come across as brainy comedy bits, while his sustained tales covertly encompass deep emotional and psychological dimensions. An adept zeitgeist miner, Novak excels at topsy-turvy improvisations on a dizzying array of subjects, from Aesop’s fables to tabloid Elvis to our oracular enthrallment to the stock market. A master of cringe, Novak imagines a blind date with a warlord, a Comedy Central TV roast of Nelson Mandela, and a mortifying misunderstanding between mega-best-selling novelist John Grisham and his new editor. Writing with zing and humor in the spirit of Woody Allen and Steve Martin, Novak also ventures into the realm of George Saunders and David Foster Wallace. A boy wins a breakfast-cereal contest and discovers a shocking family secret. A sex robot falls in love. A man reveals the heartbreak behind the universally dreaded math problem about the two trains leaving the stations at different times. Baseline clever and fresh, at best spectacularly perceptive, and always commanding, Novak’s ingeniously ambushing stories of longing, fear, pretension, and confusion reveal the quintessential absurdities and transcendent beauty of our catch-as-catch-can lives. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Novak’s television fame is an instant lure, one that will be pitched far and wide as Novak appears on major talk shows and travels to 20 cities in concert with an immense print and online ad campaign. --Donna Seaman

Review

"It isn’t easy to make a reader laugh out loud. Even when confronted with the sharpest, funniest prose, many people will respond with nothing more than a quiet chuckle. . . . Whatever the reason, all I can say is good luck chuckling quietly during One More Thing, the wonderfully cockeyed, consistently hilarious debut from B.J. Novak. . . . Given his background in TV comedy writing as well as stand-up, it’s not surprising that Novak knows how to stick a great line or milk a funny premise with the right amount of squeeze. What’s more striking is the wild imagination he brings to these pages, taking familiar narrative constructs — a woman and a man on a blind date — and infusing them with the unexpected. . . . His style is part Steven Wright and part Charlie Kaufman, married with a sharp ear for (and satire of) contemporary pop culture. . . . . A gifted observer of the human condition and a very funny writer capable of winning that rare thing: unselfconscious, insuppressible laughter.”--Jen Chaney, The Washington Post
 
“In one of the longer entries in his very funny debut collection of stories, B. J. Novak describes a writer and translator named J. C. Audetat, who has a gift for ‘the off-the-cuff vernacular of his day’—or what might be called ‘the poetry of everyday conversations.’. . . The same might be said of Mr. Novak, whose athletic imagination and ear for ‘the language of his own time and place (that is, the vernacular of that 21st-century genus of young, hip Americans, known to frequent urban habitats on the East and West Coasts) are showcased in this volume. . . . Mr. Novak has an idiosyncratic voice that’s distinctively his own, though One More Thing will also produce lots of comparisons to other writers. His more fully developed stories have a sense of the absurdities—and sadnesses—of contemporary American life reminiscent of George Saunders’s short fiction. Others will more likely elicit comparisons to David Sedaris’s books (without the curmudgeonly persona), Steve Martin’s prose pieces (with less conceptual strangeness) and Woody Allen’s Without Feathers and Side Effects (with less emphasis on big, existential questions). . . . Mr. Novak is nimble at showing how easily the ordinary can morph into the extraordinary and adept at making us see the surreal in the everyday. . . A funny writer with a great ear, but also as a genuine storyteller with an observant eye and finely tuned emotional radar.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“B.J. Novak meets--no, exceeds--expectations in ONE MORE THING, firmly establishing him as one of the best humor writers around. . . . The varied length of the stories adds to the pleasure--it's like sampling a multicourse meal instead of gorging just on pizza. . . . Novak's writing mirrors his acting in that both rely on dry wit and dead-pan delivery. His influences run from celebrated New Yorker humorist James Thurber to Steve Martin to the Harvard Lampoon style of comedy (no wonder, as Novak was a member of the publication in college) to stand-up comedian Steven Wright. But he synthesizes those influences and has delivered something wholly original. . . . The longer stories avoid easy laugh-out-loud punch lines in favor of quirky, offbeat twists that showcase his skill as a storyteller. . . . Novak has found success as an actor, screenwriter and producer, but it turns out that the “one more thing” he added to his résumé--author--might be where his greatest talent lies.”—Andy Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter

“Novak’s high-concept, hilarious, and disarmingly commiserative fiction debut stems from his stand-up performances and his Emmy Award–winning work on the comedy series, The Office. . . . Accordingly, his more concise stories come across as brainy comedy bits, while his sustained tales covertly encompass deep emotional and psychological dimensions. An adept zeitgeist miner, Novak excels at topsy-turvy improvisations on a dizzying array of subjects, from Aesop’s fables to tabloid Elvis to our oracular enthrallment to the stock market. . . . Writing with zing and humor in the spirit of Woody Allen and Steve Martin, Novak also ventures into the realm of George Saunders and David Foster Wallace. . . . Baseline clever and fresh, at best spectacularly perceptive, and always commanding, Novak’s ingeniously ambushing stories of longing, fear, pretension, and confusion reveal the quintessential absurdities and transcendent beauty of our catchas-catch-can lives.” —Booklist, starred review
 
“Novak’s debut contains a buckshot 64 fun and funny short stories crammed into a single volume. Part Etgar Keret, part McSweeney’s, these tidy tales from the alum of TV’s The Office depart from the ‘how I became famous’ comedian’s biography for a decidedly more literary turn. . . . The bulk of Novak’s stories are comedic, and more than a few are surprisingly tender. . . . Written by an author in complete control of his craft.”—Publishers Weekly
 
"Everyone knew that B.J. Novak was smart and sexy, but funny, too!? Wow, screw that guy. I haven't laughed at words this hard since I read."—Joshua Ferris author of The Unnamed and Then We Came to the End
 
"ONE MORE THING is a funny and inventive debut collection, infused with a deadpan absurdist wit reminiscent of Woody Allen and Ian Frazier. B.J. Novak's stories are sly and playful, but they can pack a real emotional wallop." —Tom Perrotta, author of Nine Inches
 
"I am so relieved that I had not read B.J.'s book before I worked with him. I would just have spent every day at his feet instead of doing my job." —Emma Thompson

"Dark and hilarious, like the fudge Grandma used to make during her 'special' period. Deliciously funny!" —Jack Handey, author of Deep Thoughts and The Stench of Honolulu
 
"B.J. blew me away. He just keeps kicking short fiction in the rear, making it run ahead clutching its ass, and then he runs up and kicks it some more, and the result is one of the most aggressively, insanely awesome debuts in a while." —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

More About the Author

B.J. Novak is a writer and actor best known for his work on NBC's Emmy Award-winning comedy series "The Office" as an actor, writer, director, and executive producer. He is also known for his stand up comedy performances and his roles in motion pictures such as Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks." He is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in English and Spanish literature.

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Customer Reviews

One more thing was for me, "boring".
Cheryl Silveira
The early stories are very clever and very funny--matching or surpassing the best Woody Allen short stories.
David
This book made me laugh out loud from the very first story.
Tiffany A. Harkleroad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By John Lemut VINE VOICE on December 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading B.J. Novak's book of short stories, ONE MORE THING. Actually, I guess I did have certain expectations. I expected a typical collection of a dozen or so short stories. There are more than sixty short stories in ONE MORE THING, ranging from just a few words to about 20 pages long.

And I suppose I also had expectations about the kinds of stories that would be contained in the collection, or about the style of writing. The very first story, "The Rematch," took those expectations and shook them up. It's a sly story about a rematch between the tortoise and the hare. That's all I want to tell you about it.

There is a humorous slant to these stories, but they're not just funny. There's a perspective to them that's creative and unique. They're well written, clever and are exactly as long as they need to be. None of them run out of steam before they are done and, just as importantly, none of them feel like they're ended just to be done with them. (The shortest ones are hit and miss for me, but I don't really have an appreciation for micro-fiction as it is. Perhaps in time.)

I wouldn't say there's a common theme throughout the collection, although some of the stories do relate to each other in subtle, fun ways, and many of them end with a satisfying punch or punch line. I feel like many of these stories began with a musing (some of the musings you, yourself, may have had before, and some you'll wonder why it hadn't ever occurred to you) and were deconstructed in order to be presented in a fresh way.

As I continued reading, I was frequently wowed with the subsequent stories. And then I came to "Kellogg's," a story with a long subtitle about a boy who wins $100,000 from a box of cereal and goes to collect his prize.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm hesitant to give any specifics because B.J. Novak relies on the element of surprise to carry these pieces. The fun of reading the book is in being unaware of what new ways he will catch you off guard from one story to the next. Many of these pieces are not stories, but more like scenarios. I envy Novak's ability to say "What if ____________", and then come up with a bizarre way of filling in the blank with something we all wish we'd thought of.

Some of the pieces are just a line or two. They appear to be things B.J. Novak said to his friends off the top of his head and then recorded in a notebook for possible future use. For example: "I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies too." The title for that one, The Walk To School On the Day After Labor Day, is almost as long as the piece it introduces.

Short story collections rarely get five stars from me because each story varies so much in quality and subject. Did I love everything in this book? No. There were some that fell flat for me, and some I just didn't get. But I was always eager to read the next one, and the next and the next, just to see where else Novak's nutty mind would take me. I laughed and I gasped and I found myself inspired to think more creatively. And THAT is worth five stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jim Villani on February 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very fun read. I would have given it 5 stars, but I preferred J. C. Audetat's translation to the original text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JMM TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"One More Thing" is an excellent collection of short stories. I prefer reading short stories because they are succinct (and boy, some of these stories are *very* succinct) - where I always have difficulty putting a good novel down, a short story collection provides entertainment and imagination that can be read in a few minutes (which is good for those with tighter time restrictions).

This book contains over 50 shorts, all with varying degrees of humor. Some of the stories are plays on existing stories - the first story, titled "The Rematch", is another look at the Tortoise and the Hare tale. There are some clever stories here: I really enjoyed "Diary of the Man Who Invented the Calendar". Also, anyone who has been driving long enough can identify with the story titled "Pick a Lane". And in just 2 pages, "Wikipedia Brown" perfectly points out a few of the downsides of the internet culture.

I first knew of the author BJ Novak from his role as Ryan on the TV series "The Office". Turns out BJ also was a writer on that show, and through both "The Office" as well as his book "One More Thing" he demonstrates considerable talent in comedic writing. While I gather his primary goal is to make the reader laugh, I think there is more to it than that. Sure, some of the stories are shallow plays at humor; but I saw others as having deeper themes. As with all fiction, I guess you get out of these stories whatever you put into them. Just because they are short does not mean they are devoid of substance.

I would recommend this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Troy Blackford on March 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This, a collection of around sixty 'stories,' was a frustrating book. For the first forty percent or thereabouts, I was not enjoying it much at all. The quality of it came in fitful bursts, but there were enough stories here that I did not like at all to make me doubtful of enjoying the whole. Indeed, if you had told me even at the halfway point that I would be giving the book four stars, I would have been astounded.

But, I had to admit as I read more and more that the stories I did enjoy were very moving, diverting, engaging, or amusing indeed. Sometimes, they even exhibited a combination of these qualities. I believe the overall effect is marred by the presence of subpar stories. You'll be riding a wave of emotion or respect for the intention of the author, and then then next 'story' (some are genuine stories, but there are often just a handful of sentences, representing more of a thought or dare I say it even a skit) would be throwaway, or at the very least not an appropriate contrast to the previous entry. Balance in a collection is excellent. Unartful choking off of the previously developed feeling is not.

I for one had no objection to the presence of the shorter pieces, when they were good. I found the format of this book to be sound. It's just that some of the pieces think they are more clever than they are. There is a really disparate quality level here. And I think you can place the blame for the collection being in the form it is at the feet of the current mainstream publishing industry. First off, it's amazing a collection of short pieces got published, as that's a form of writing that is not heavily represented these days. But the problem is that even these collections have to be 'novel-length.
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