Review: One More Thing by B.J. Novak

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Today’s book:

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

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It’s hard to describe and sum up this book to give this review a nice, rounded start, so, screw eloquence and perfection. One More Thing is a collection of short stories, fun bits of prose, and anything in between from famed writer/actor B.J. Novak. There.

When I read short stories, it is hardly in a collection, and to be honest, is hardly ever. It’s not that I don’t love a great short story, I do, I just never know where to find them or who I want to read them from. The exception of course is my good pal J.D. Salinger but even his stories seem to have a flow in them and often have a familiar character or family to relate it all together in a patchwork novel. This felt very different than anything I’ve read so hardly a comparison will be had here, which is nice. Probably.

Novak uses his humor perfectly here. I was smiling and doing that thing where you just kind of smirk and puff out some air out of your nose because you’re on a train and laughing out loud seems insane and maybe rude (I mean, they’re not in on the joke, I’m trying to be considerate). However, that was to be expected. Novak is known for his writing and acting in the U.S. version of The Office, one of my favorite TV shows of all time. What I wasn’t expecting was subtlety, hints of philosophy and heavier thoughts of families, identity, life, love, and everything in between. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this book except that I would probably laugh, so everything else was a fantastic surprise.

You can expect to see some of his tweets, short bits of observational humor, and fun perspective. Also, bits of fiction that will make you laugh and honestly make you think twice about the stuff you see online or the family you were plunked into. Expect to be floored and sometimes confused. Expect to think a story will be some type of memorial account but it is, in fact, not. This is not Novak’s rise to fame story or his retelling of his (probably) interesting youth. It’s what the title says it is: stories and other stories, and from what I can tell, they are all fictional.

My favorite selections are as follows, with a bit of reasoning:

“Dark Matter” for its hilarious build up and anger toward the tour group leader. And also this:

Well, wouldn’t you know it: all the friends I had asked earlier if they wanted to come to the planetarium with me-oh, now they’re interested. … Didn’t they realize how much interesting shit there was to see and do in this world if you just woke up at a normal fucking time like a normal fucking person?

“The Girl Who Gave Great Advice” because of its humor and the picture he paints of this woman that I honestly want to be best friends with.

“The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela” because I find roasts, for the most part, incredibly stupid and an incredible waste of time and resources. Everything was hilarious and perfected in its satire but man, Mandela killed it.

“Kellog’s (or: The Last Wholesome Fantasy of the Middle-School Boy)” for a reason I cannot pin point but it definitely has stuck out to me since I read it and can’t get it out of my mind.

“Angel Echeverria, Comediante Superpopular” for obvious drop out stand up comedian feelings and it does a great job of describing comedic timing, the art of stand up comedy, and crowd manipulation which I find simply fascinating.

People were already laughing without even noticing that they were. Yes, of course they had been inside a Whole Foods, and yes, of course they had noticed the higher prices.

“One of These Days, We Have to Do Something About Willie” because I never wanted it to end and will literally pay Novak to write a novel length tale about this group of friends.

“Marie’s Stupid Boyfriend” because that guy sounds seriously obnoxious.

“Kate Moss” because it made me laugh the hardest.

I encourage anyone to pick up this book and read it. It has an appeal to the humorists, the philosophers, the thinkers, the absent minded (a lot of these stories are very short!), and the intellectually gifted. It is well rounded and fun and leaves you thinking — but not in that pretentious way short stories sometimes do. No, these tales just kind of knock you around a bit or let you fall slowly into your thoughts, they don’t punch you down with messages. They lift you up.

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