Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review of "One More Thing" by B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak, the author of this collection of short stories, anecdotes, and random thoughts is probably best known for playing Ryan Howard on the popular TV series "The Office." He was also a writer and executive producer on the show and has appeared in a number of Hollywood movies.

Most of the stories in the collection are humorous and some are thought-provoking. One story that made me smile is called "The Something by John Grisham". In this tale John Grisham sends his new editor a manuscript that he provisionally calls 'The Something' because he hasn't decided on a title. Next thing Grisham knows his book, named 'The Something', is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List, courtesy of the inexperienced editor. Mortifying for the perfectionist author.

The story "The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela" is clever and fun. Comedians Jeff Ross, Lisa Lampenelli, Sarah Silverman and others poke gentle fun at the iconic anti-apartheid activist and President of South Africa - with a few embarassing missteps along the way. Afterwards Mandela shows some humor chops of his own.

In "No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg", a deceased couple in Heaven can hardly decide on a concert to attend since famous dead musicians give free concerts every night. After a Frank Sinatra concert, the duo finally get to see hubby's elusive Grandma - who has better things to do in Heaven than visit with relatives.

In the story "Kellogg's", a young boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of sugary name-brand cereal that's forbidden in his home. When the lad's parents refuse to claim the prize he sneaks off to Kellogg's headquarters to get his winnings. There he meets an executive who tells the boy he can't have the prize because he's related to a Kellogg's employee. Turns out the executive is the kid's real dad! Lots of food for thought in this story.

In "Sophia", a man orders a sex robot, then returns her when she falls in love with him. He's soon being kidded by anyone and everyone - on late night TV, the news, and social media. This part is very funny. Later, the robot tries to change the man's mind and he tries to explain that she'll get over him.

Some anecdotes have oblique follow-ups later in the book. In a story called "All You Have To Do" a young man wears a bright red t-shirt every day. He hopes that some gal might like the look of him and try to locate him via social media. So far, he's had no luck at all. In a later story titled "Missed Connection...." a girl who had a romantic night with a stranger is heartbroken because he never came back. As it happens, the fellow was wearing a red shirt.

The book contains many more entries, some a few pages long, some composed only of a sentence or two. B.J. Novak has an offbeat sense of humor that won't appeal to everyone. I liked some parts of the book better than others, but overall I found the stories entertaining. I wouldn't buy the book (for one thing a lot of the stories are available online)....but it's certainly worth getting from the library.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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