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Sorry Please Thank You: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – May 7, 2013
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“There's some of the cerebral gamesmanship of Jonathan Lethem, the resigned sadness of Kurt Vonnegut, the Phil Dickian paranoiac distrust of consumer culture. But Yu's voice, sensibility and approach are unique, especially in the ways he wrings humor and pathos out of stripped-down syntax and seemingly passive protagonists . . . The stories deliver more than their fair share of bitter laughs, philosophical conundrums and existential gut punches.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A mix of science fiction, absurdist humor and Beckettian monologue, with storytelling techniques that twist narrative into a computer-esque objectivism; think Donald Barthleme's strangest pyrotechnics in a Philip K. Dick or Haruki Murakami world . . . [Charles Yu is ] the computer century's heir to Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury.”
“Yu’s workman-like sentences are unexpectedly emotive, while also being almost always very funny . . . As with his critically acclaimed, much-adored 2010 debut novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Yu’s new baker’s dozen of satiric stories tell of a future that’s really just an exaggerated present . . . Like the best science fiction writers, Yu provides seemingly gratuitous logistical information to mitigate any hint of farce . . . Yu is a master of the slow reveal. It sometimes takes pages to understand where we are and why, but as the chatty protagonists joke and confess their deepest pains, details accrue and outlines fill in. And when we are finally oriented, the universe he has created feels eerily complete . . . Imaginary lands become possible worlds; cunning tricks grow into game theory; playing pretend morphs into explorations of false consciousness. Each story in Sorry Please Thank You is staggeringly smart, and none feel like anything but entertainment. Cultish fans of the NBC comedy “Community,’’ this book is for you.”
—The Boston Globe
“I don't know that there's a better story-bending talent at work than Yu since the rise of George Saunders . . . If you take a longer view you can see that Yu's success has many parents, from the oft-quoted Stein, the tone of Hemingway and Beckett, Virginia Woolf's fanciful short creations (as in, say, the story "Kew Gardens"), Calvino's game-faced fantasies and the low-key but powerful satire of Kurt Vonnegut . . . a tour-de-force.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR.org
“Lovely and heartfelt . . . A brilliantly manic ride . . . Yu has an undeniable gift for describing, in clean, economical prose, the mechanics of things that don't exist or are impossible."
—The Wall Street Journal
“Stand back. The lead story in Sorry Please Thank You, this spritely new collection by L.A. writer Charles Yu, has the title ‘Standard Loneliness Package’ and it announces that a sly, nimble fantasist with a speculative edge is at work here. [An] adroit piece of work . . . Experiment plus emotion, we don’t often find these two elements together, but when it happens, as it does in most of these stories . . . it makes for terrific reading for the heart as well as the head.”
—Alan Cheuse for NPR’s All Things Considered
“Charles Yu won us over with his weird, melancholy novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and now he's back . . . [These] stories are psychological studies of neurotic nerds, struggling to stay alive as they fight liches and loneliness. They're beautiful, strange, and funny.”
“Yu’s bold, playful voice evokes a computer-era Donald Barthelme, but his stylistic journey into the vast universe that is the human mind is refreshingly distinctive.”
“Laugh-out-loud moments of strangeness artfully exist in a contemporary fictional structure . . . With this collection, steeped in originality, we get echoes of David Foster Wallace’s early collection, Girl with the Curious Hair. Like Wallace, Yu abandons the more self-serving, insular metafiction of the past 40 years for a fresher form. Using technology, pop culture, etc., he attempts to write fiction that can be best shared with readers, not just critics or scholars. Yu, in fact, marries science and literature . . . Characteristic of his work, Yu mixes the beauty of human emotion with the science fiction to invent highly original, highly entertaining scenes and stories. He poses questions of reality and existence. You first think you’re chuckling to yourself. Then, without warning, you‘ve got that ‘reaching final altitude’ feeling in your stomach—a sudden change . . . Yu examines what it means to exist now and, in his own way, what it will mean in the future. It’s almost as if these stories, through their science fiction and futuristic themes twinned with a humorous yet moving style, strive to reinvent what we know as metafiction . . . Yu follows Vonnegut and Wallace in this style of metafictional, literary pilgrimage”
“Grade A- . . . Pick it up and kiss your weekend good-bye . . . The best comparisons, though it feels a little hyperbolic to say, might be made with Vonnegut’s more pessimistic novels, books like Cat’s Cradle, Deadeye Dick, and Timequake. With Sorry Please Thank You, Yu has achieved something rare: an aggressively imagined work of fiction in which the concepts (mostly) serve the characters.”
“Charles Yu's outstanding collection Sorry Please Thank You collects short fiction by the author who gave us the terrific How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Yu's blend of literary fiction's style with sci-fi's wild ideas is beautifully realized here, especially in the moving gem "Standard Loneliness Package." One of the year's best collections in any genre.”
—The Austin American-Statesman
“Enchanting . . . Yu’s ability to assume widely diverging roles as a storyteller is dazzling . . . Those not bothered by diverse writing styles will find reading Yu to be an exciting adventure.”
“Like his debut novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu's new collection of stories mixes humor and clever conceits with a perfect deadpan delivery . . . Sharp, crisp insights that will have you chuckling and shaking your head.”
—Los Angeles Times
“The author behind three of the most unusual books of fiction published in the past five years . . . Untraditional but weirdly glorious narratives that, for all their experimental form, end up carrying as much or even more emotional force as your original, more conventional vessel would have.”
—Poets and Writers
“In his new collection, Charles Yu applies his trademark winking, pop-culture-infused, sci-fi mentality to a series of short stories . . . Clever and cutting.”
“Whether Yu’s work is dark, thought provoking, humorous, or all of the above, it’s always compulsively readable.”
—Owl and Bear
“Looking for the next great voice in fiction? Young author Charles Yu’s short stories beg comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, but he’s funnier than both.”
“Entertaining . . . Like a friend who stops by unexpectedly with a bunch of mind-bending tales to share . . . had me laughing . . . go order a copy.”
—Geekdad, Wired Magazine
“Impressive . . . Charts eclectic territory, from a zombie in a megamart to a new pharmaceutical drug that generates a sense of purpose, and explores retreats from reality and emotion . . . [Am] amusing send up American consumer culture.”
About the Author
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307948463
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307948465
- Dimensions : 5.19 x 0.67 x 7.97 inches
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (May 7, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #117,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It is rare that I do not finish a book, even a collection. Rarer still that I do not retain a physical copy. Yet this will be both for me.
I am someone who loves a good scifi, dabbles into the occasional video game and manga/anime, and is well versed in geeky chic. This collection takes the most cringy and least celebrated elements of each and makes sophomoric considerations into their worlds.
Perhaps the true audience here is the young adult, and the positive reception I see reflects those prevailing trend to those sensibilities of the past 15 years. If you are looking for fresh insights and sophistication on the surreal and the unreal, there are many better options out there.
If this is your first foray into such realms beyond mainstream sources, it may satisfy your sense of the disbelief of those systems.
Mr. Yu’s style goes beyond post-modernism (open endings, undefined plots and mysterious character’s goals) to reach an exciting island of clarity. His prose is more thoughtful than gimmicky, and anything but stuffy. Beyond the stories’ unusual structures and formats, and the perhaps-all-too-frequent mocking of sci-fi and Twilight Zone stereotypes (an odd connection with Junot Diaz’s famous novel about Oscar Wao’s life), Yu gets away with a lot of philosophizing in the mix—like when saying “..maybe a hole had opened up in the world, and movies and poems were coming through into reality. Or maybe we were the movie, or the poem, and this was our chance to go into the real world.”
Some of the stories have a sad, overcast tone. It’s as if when we finally get everything we hope for in a virtually-simulated future—where one’s never sure what’s real—it won’t be as bright and awesome as we’d hoped for.
The collection is a pleasant experience for readers that have turned jaded after attempting to tackle more heady (and confusing) storytelling by modern masters. If you like it, perhaps should try to jump back in time, into the depths of Yu’s early ‘science fictional’ novel.
There’s been a whole body of experimental literature in the lines of Yu’s world—giants like Julio Cortázar and his Rubik’s cube-like novels—but recently most of what passes as experiment (“A visit from the good squad” comes to mind) doesn’t seem genuine enough and pales in comparison with those early explorers. In this new world of false bravado, where every writer needs to show off being a genius, Mr. Yu is a real new talent, exploring so well and so naturally the boundaries of story-telling.