This is BJ Novak. He played Ryan on the NBC smash The Office for many years. I likely wouldn’t have known that The Office existed if not for my BAM compadres- Matt, Jessie, and Richie. I was hooked pretty quickly. To the extent that one forgettable spring of 2009 that I spent in bed due to a sucky sinus infection, I became acquainted with The Office and Everyone Hates Chris. I am seriously glad for both. My love affair has continued with the alumni of The Office. I love Rainn Wilson and try to see what he’s in, we know I secretly lust after Steve Carrell, I have read both of Mindy Kaling’s books, I have seen the films Krasinski has been in, I enthusiastically jam out to The Grass Roots (Creed’s band back in the day) etc. So the moment I heard about this book, I had to read it. The blurbs on back were definitely contributing to that, and they were pretty on the money.
The book is short stories, a genre that I have not been fast friends with in the past. As in all things in my life, I am working on expanding what I’m used to and embracing new things. Including what I read. The stories are all pretty quick reads, some only a page and half. Those, oddly enough, are the ones that had the most impact on me. There are no shortages of short, static wit and unbelievable anecdotes that get the point(s) across in a quick, acerbic dash of hyperbole. Novak doesn’t ramble, he doesn’t spend whole passages running into cement pillars, and his thoughts come through clear in the stories.
Humanity, love, society, Frank Sinatra getting a blow job by a dead grandmother, sex robots, interventions Facebook style, a rematch of The Tortoise and the Hare, the story of a boy who wins a ton of money from a cereal box sweepstakes, the billionaire and the Earth mirror, as well as a John Grisham related short story (I like that one, as a book nerd would), it’s all here. This is wide disparity in subject matter and it veers from thought-provoking to slyly sardonic to side-splitting. The book takes a different turn with every new story. Since variety is the constant in my life, I love this sort of book. I never had a clue what was coming with the book, and I love that almost as much as I love the sort of ending that takes the breath away. There weren’t any of those, but there didn’t need to be, because there was enough meat on this bone to satisfy the person hogging the book down.
I highly recommend it. The only thing that stopped me from giving it a full five star review is because the ones I didn’t care for were real clunkers. To the point that with several of them, I went back and re-read two or three times. Those left a sour taste in my mouth, but again, that bittersweet taste was washed away by the other stellar contributions to the book. I can see how this would get past a lot of people, so hopefully he picks up a ton of mention in the press for how well it’s written on a whole, and the book sells the hell out and knocks on the NYT bestseller list. I really, really enjoyed it. Definitely one of the few short stories collections I can say that with.