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One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 4, 2014
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"Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It"
Read the new book by bestselling author Grace Helbig. More by Grace Helbig.
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“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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
It was a good way to spend the time on these rainy days we've had lately.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it! I have never been a short stories girl but I found myself feeling every emotion reading this book. Read morePublished 1 hour ago by Julianne O'Connell
Even in three page stories, he manages to create complex characters who can break your heart or are full of endless wisdom.Published 3 days ago by Abby
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I checked out this audiobook, but I was pleasantly surprised. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Nikki
Probably one of the worst books I've ever read. I was literally in physical pain while I was trying to force myself to read the last pages, and finally finish the damn thing.Published 10 days ago by Rebecca L. Maxwell
Wonderfully well-written and engaging. I imagine this to be the way viewers felt during original airings of The Twilight Zone. (Though this collection is in no way eerie. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Allison Hibbard
Bought it for a friend is a massive fan of The Office. He enjoyed it.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
B.J. Novak is a great actor, writer, and author. This book is satirical, funny, acrid, sweet, and thought-provoking. B.J. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Sol Rey