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Superbad: Stories and Pieces Hardcover – November 1, 2001
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More About the Author
Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of the underground indie hits Please Step Back, Superbad, and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both. His short fiction and music criticism has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Paris Review, and he writes a regular comedy column for McSweeney's. He lives in Brooklyn.
Top Customer Reviews
Greenman's two major affiliations define the literary worlds his fiction straddles: McSweeney's and The New Yorker. His writing trades in the brash cockiness and occasional absurdism of the former, as well as the staid "contemporary traditionalism" of the latter - but it does this by turns, not simultaneously. This may be because the two are too disparate to be reconciled, but the impression I get is that Greenman's loyalties are simply too divided: he doesn't want to have his cake and eat it too, unfortunately; he's perfectly content with two cakes. The result is a book whose individual pieces are fine for the most part, but whose overall personality feels split. It's not so much that he keeps his "serious" and "comic" pieces separate; it's that he reserves all his insight and substance for the one and leaves many humorous pieces thin and smirky.
As is the case with many first books from young writers, it's easy to play "spot the influence" while reading Superbad. Greenman has ingested, but not completely digested, his forebears, especially the three B's: Borges, Barth, and Barthelme (the last of whose estate ought to get a percentage of profits from "In the Presence of the General" and several other pieces here), with a healthy dose of Woody Allen thrown in, and a dash of Calvino for good measure. Hell, "Fun with Time" even seems to owe a debt to Yoko Ono's "Grapefruit.Read more ›
There are a few real gems in these stories, but many fall short of greatness. I feel they were just included to fatten up the book. Oh, and those "musicals" need to go.
I really wanted to like all the pieces in this book, but I just couldn't. The writing didn't seem sincere to me. Don't try so hard to be clever, and make me laugh. I can figure that out myself.
Toward the end of this book, I began to wonder if Mr. Greenman could sit still long enough to compose a complete work of prose, either in novel form or a continous narrative, or if he becomes too bored or disinterested to do so. There is great merit in writing the short story, which is a true talent indeed, but even Mr. Greenman's short pieces seem incomplete.
A frustrating piece, that shines in parts, but is unrealized in others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ben Greenman's writing is so funny that my roommate asked me what I was reading because it sounded hilarious.
Ben Greenman's writing is contagious. Read more
I ran across this book at a friend's house and I was pretty impressed. There are at least a dozen different ideas, sometimes at cross-purposes, but they're handled very... Read morePublished on October 14, 2005 by Louis Stiller
I just saw something in the Washington City Paper about this author coming to town to read. Interestingly, the listing of the event was the most negative paragraph I have ever read... Read morePublished on March 20, 2002
I have not bought this book or even read it, but I have heard great things about it. A friend of mine (well actually a friend of a friend) told me that he had read it and that it... Read morePublished on February 8, 2002 by Shaun Bossio
Ben Greenman is some kind of genius. I'm not sure what kind, but some kind. This book is endlessly inventive; there are so many things going on here that every time you turn the... Read morePublished on January 23, 2002
It wasn't the humor pieces that I liked best in this book but rather the more moving, genuinely emotional short stories. Read morePublished on December 19, 2001 by Bradley Jenkins
There are some piece in here I don't understand, like one that's just a long list of items, but the last story, "What 100 People, Real and Fake, Believe About Dolores,"... Read morePublished on November 28, 2001 by Andrea Feucht