One More Thing - Stories and Other Stories - B.J. Novak

Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Synopsis: Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, from the deeply familiar to the intoxicatingly imaginative,One More Thing finds its heart in the most human of phenomena: love, fear, family, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element that might make a person complete. The stories in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.


Review: First things first, that synopsis is insanely overwritten, and its only an excerpt from the full synopsis at Goodreads! I enjoyed this book. It is a collection of approximately 60 short stories, several of which do not even really constitute stories so much as a tiny collection of sentences, while others last several pages. On the surface, this book comes across as a light-hearted set of offhanded jokes and punchlines, presented with a creative diversity in themes and characters. On occasion, it delves a little deeper than that, but not often, and for the most part leaves deeper conclusions to be drawn by the reader themselves. One line that struck me as one of the most whimsically expressed dark sentiments I have ever read - it stole multiple rereadings from me and sent a shiver down my spine - is to be found in a description of nice things found in heaven: "Children with old souls finally laughed lightly".

I will admit that within the first few stories, several moments made me laugh out loud, and Novak definitely has a way with words. The second half of the collection moved a lot slower than the first, and while it too contained some gems, most of the stories and vignettes from the whole book were ultimately forgetable. However, some will stick with me, including the first story, 'The Rematch' and 'The Something by John Grisham' had me cackling with delight, and one-liners in 'Rithmetic' and 'If You Love Something' made me snort with laughter. Many of them felt very relatable in a way that reflected life quite well - they never turn out how you expect and only rarely is anything as perfect or ideal as you might hope. In some cases, things are downright awful (e.g. 'One Of These Days, We Have To Do Something About Willie'). That reflective nature, perhaps, is my favourite thing about this collection.

Highly readable, I happily read all the stories in their printed order, within 24 hours, and even the forgettable ones didn't really feel like a waste. Special mention must go to 'I Never Want To Walk On The Moon', 'Pick A Lane', and 'The Walk To School On The Day After Labor Day'. Don't go into this collection expecting mind-boggling insight into the nature of the human condition, and you may very well find it tickles your funny bone just fine - probably one to carry in your bag for dipping in and out of on the ride to and from places.

Rating: 4/5

No comments: