Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: One More Thing


A lot of you may already know B.J. Novak's name. If you don't, click on his name there and you'll be taken to his IMDb page. Ahhh, you know the face, right? Novak was on The Office and in the recent Saving Mr. Banks. But I didn't read his recently published book of short stories because of his acting chops. I read it because it sounded like an awesome collection. That and the online marketing ladies at Random House of Canada wouldn't stop talking about it! I'm glad I got the chance to read One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories because I really enjoyed it.

Here's the synopsis, which is actually longer than some of the stories in the book!:
B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut collection that signals the arrival of a welcome new voice in American fiction.
Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, Novak's assured prose and expansive imagination introduce readers to people, places, and premises that are hilarious, insightful, provocative, and moving-often at the same time.
In One More Thing, a boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes - only to discover that claiming the winnings may unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins - turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A school principal unveils a bold plan to permanently abolish arithmetic. An acclaimed ambulance driver seeks the courage to follow his heart and throw it all away to be a singer-songwriter. Author John Grisham contemplates a monumental typo. A new arrival in heaven, overwhelmed by infinite options, procrastinates over his long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who debate how to stage an intervention in the era of Facebook. We learn why wearing a red t-shirt every day is the key to finding love; how February got its name; and why the stock market is sometimes just... down.
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.
My favourite thing about this collection was the mixture of light and dark, funny and serious. There were stories that made me laugh out loud, like "Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle", and others that made me really think about things, like "The Market Was Down" (why was the market down?). There were also stories that made me look at things a little differently, like the very first story "The Rematch." (one of my favourites.) That one told the story of the rematch between the tortoise and the hare and it makes you think about how you might judge the characters/animals from other fables or stories. Plus, it was just plain funny and well written!

All sorts of topics were discussed, too. Did you ever wonder how John Grisham comes up with his titles? In "The Something by John Grisham", that issue is tackled (in a hilarious way). Dating tips are sprinkled throughout and one of my favourites is "All You Have to Do" which provides, what I think is, a great guide on how to use Craiglist's Missed Connections. Walking on the moon is written about too. There were just so many different topics and I loved it.

One of the other neat things is that characters from one story showed up in another. I only noticed this twice but there may have been other, more subtle, mentions. I really liked this because it allowed for a thread of connectivity between all of the stories. Plus, it's always fun to find mention of a character in another work by the same author. This time it just happened to be all in the same book!

Novak didn't stick with one type of story format, either. Some stories are long and have a narrative woven through while others are short and don't have a typical story structure. I'm a fan of stories and novels that follow a linear format and don't try to be all creative (think random paragraphs that just have one word on each line and things like that) but I appreciated that Novak wrote what he wanted and in the way he wanted because it all worked together in this collection.

I want to mention a few of my other favourite stories, just because I can: "Romance, Chapter One", "The Beautiful Girl in the Bookstore", "If You Love Something", "Heyyyyy, Rabbits" (I have a rabbit so this one made me smile!), "Constructive Criticism", and "The Literalist's Love Poem."


Read One More Thing. Read it if you're a fan of B.J. Novak. Read it if you're a fan of short stories. Read it if you're a fan of fiction. Basically, just read it. It has something for everyone and I think that's what makes it so fantastic.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Random House of Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

4 comments:

  1. I love short stories and this one sounds good! I will have to check it out :)
    ­Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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  2. You've sold me! I'm putting a hold on this book now! Regretting the fact taht I didn't request a copy from Random House. :P

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I'm almost done reading this book and it has exceeded all of my expectations! How unexpected was "Closure"?!?!?! SO good.

    Ps. I tried commenting with my Wordpress account but for some reason it wouldn't work so here is my blog if you're interested in checking it out. I read mostly Adult fiction. http://kmn04books.wordpress.com

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