Monday, August 11, 2014

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

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

Published 2014

First Sentence
"In the aftermath of an athletic humiliation on an unprecedented scale - a loss to a tortoise in a footrace so staggering that, his tormentors teased, it would not only live on in the record books, but would transcend sport itself, and be taught to children around the world in textbooks and bedtime stories for centuries; that hundreds of years from now, children who have never heard of a "tortoise" would learn that it was basically a fancy type of turtle from hearing about this very race - the hare retreated, understandably, into a substantial period of depression and self-doubt."

Publisher's Description:

From an actor, writer, and director of the hit TV comedy The Office (US version): a story collection that was "workshopped" at comedy clubs and bookstores on both coasts.

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.

Dear Reader,

Pure magical comedic genius B.J. Novak had me laughing, pondering, and listening with both ears, waiting for the next story. Why has the universe given him such comedic talent? I'm SO grateful for it though, he has just started his romp in the literary world and I can't wait for MORE! He has a way of taking a simple concept and changing it into something so elaborately complex, it can ONLY be laughed at. Take for example, a story about a woman who goes on a date with a Warlord. The date is just so "casual" and yet, this guy mass murders people for fun... how can anyone not think a story like that not comedic genius? Anyways, you get what I mean now though, right? It goes both ways, a complex idea into the mundane and vice versa. I find when someone uses the disturbingly odd to just "act natural", it might be one of my favorite kinds of humor. Maybe this is why I like Monty Python so much.

So, we've established this book is funny (at least to my sense of humor) but B.J. Novak doesn't just end with the funny, he tells us quite a few somber and thoughtful stories as well. I'll admit that I wasn't as connected to those, they are by no means bad. I think he has a knack for storytelling in general, I just think the stories containing his "humor" might be a little more elevated. Each story does have a nice moral, and I think the serious ones thrive on that moral, bringing them together. He does this thing throughout the book that I absolutely love, continuity and repetitive ideas/characters. Every now and then, you'll be listening to a story from this collection and then *BAM* you get hit with a character or concept from a previous story. This usually only happened during the humourous stories and it really reminded me of a style they used in a few 80's movies I loved (Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon). If you haven't seen those movies, go look them up and watch them, totally worth your time but remember they do represent that cheesy 80's feel. So which stories caught my fancy the most? I would have to say the first one is excellent "Rematch", also "Julie and the Warlord", "The Man Who Invented the Calendar", "The Best Thing in the World Awards", and the last story in the collection "J.C. Audetat, Translator of Don Quixote".

Lastly, I want to bring up how much I loved this book in Audio format. The collection of readers he has gathered for the cast is fantastic, take a look for yourself: Lena Dunham, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Julianne Moore, Carey Mulligan, Katy Perry, Jason Schwartzman, Emma Thompson, and Rainn Wilson. Yeah? Yeah! That is an EXCELLENT cast. Not to mention that B.J. Novak reads the majority of the book himself, and we all know he can act. He gives the right comedic timing for his jokes and gives the characters the perfect tone. I don't know if I would have loved this book as much in any other form. I would ask WHY?!? would anyone want to read this book over listening to it with all those glorifying bits. So, don't read this book... DON'T! Listen to it instead, I'm sure you won't be disappointed, I think I've just become another B.J. Novak fangirl... watch out.

Happy Reading,

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories

Support Shelf Notes! Purchase your copy of this book here:  OR just go buy the audiobook somewhere because you should totally listen to this one. ;p


  1. And Wikipedia Brown -- too funny! I don't know why I was so taken by this one but it was so spot on!

  2. Oh yes! I loved that one too! Such a great collection.

  3. Now you understand why I waited in line for his book at BEA!!! ;) I finally got the audiobook at the library after months of waiting, and you are making me even more excited to pick it up!!! Gotta finish my current book so I can move on to this one!!!! Great review. :-)

  4. Yes! Definitely one to listen to though, audio is the way to go. Can't wait until you read it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...