I was really excited to learn that BJ Novak (you know, Ryan from The Office) was coming out with a book of short stories. He was a writer and co-executive producer of that show for years and he’s really, really talented. Also, did you see him in Saving Mr. Banks over the Christmas break as one of the young Disney songwriters working on Mary Poppins? Brilliant.
Also, Novak made a really silly trailer for this book with his pal Mindy Kaling (I listened to her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? back in November), which is really worth checking out.
So when One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories came out a few weeks ago, I instantly ordered it and put it on my to-read list for the February break. I’m so glad I did, because it’s genuinely my favourite thing I’ve read so far this year. There’s a really comprehensive New York Times review of the book here, but the book is basically made up of 64 vignettes, or short stories. They range in length from two lines to several pages, which makes it a quick, fun read.
Some are funny, some are touching, some are silly and some are quite thoughtful. All of them are very, very clever. My favourites were “Everyone Was Singing The Same Song”: The Duke of Earl Recalls His Trip to America in June of 1962 (in which the actual Duke of Earl doesn’t understand why everyone seems to be humming the same song when he introduces himself), and A Good Problem to Have, in which Novak imagines the frustrations of the man who invented the style of math problems in which two trains pass each other while travelling at different speeds in opposite directions.
I’m not normally drawn to short stories, but I’m so glad I bought this one. I have a feeling I’m going to be lending it to a lot of people.