One More Thing by B.J. Novak

One-More-Thing-large

Stories and Other Stories

Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already a fan of B.J. Novak.  Between his stand-up comedy, screenwriting, directing, and acting, Novak has had his hands in a variety of Hollywood comedy pies.  One More Thing represents his long-awaited debut into the world of fiction writing, and yet another title to add to his growing resume.  And if that doesn’t make you feel unproductive and inadequate enough already, just remember that Novak is only 34 years old.  Damn…

While One More Thing has been compared to Woody Allen’s writing since its release, to me, the collection feels more Demetri Martin than Woody Allen.  Yes the book is filled with neurotic observations that Novak expresses with impressive brevity and wit, but the style and formatting, coupled with the specific voice of 21st century sarcasm allows for a more effortless reading experience.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed Annie Hall and Without Feather just as much as the next guy, but B.J. Novak is not an accused child molester B.J. Novak’s writing feels much more conversational and sincere.

The stories (and other stories) that comprise One More Thing are surprisingly brief – some consisting of just a sentence or two.  My favorite of these is entitled “The Walk to School on the Day After Labor Day”:

I was sad that summer was over.
But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too

At first glance, the tales are amusing and cute, but you soon realize that B.J. Novak has an incredible knack for boiling down complicated thought processes into a few pithy paragraphs or sentences.  And while the stories (and other stories) may appear to be limited to mundane territory, there’s always a punch line to lash you with a dose of reality.  Some could almost be read as modern fables.

But besides from being inevitably brilliant and poignant, we cannot look over the fact that One More Thing is also hilarious and creative.  Outside of B.J. Novak’s imagination, where else would we meet the ghost of Mark Twain, a warlord on a first date, a rematch between the Tortoise and the Hare, and a granny giving Frank Sinatra a blow job in Heaven?  And that just scratches the surface…

Quirky, refreshing, and smart, One More Thing is a very successful literary debut and B.J. Novak should be proud of himself.  Again.  Damn…


One-More-Thing

★★★★½
One More Thing
By B.J. Novak
A.A. Knopf
2014
Hardcover
288 Pages
ISBN 978-0385351836
$24.95

About Karli Cude

Karli Cude, previous moderator of Hooked Bookworm, is an avid reader and former bookseller. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010 and completed a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences in 2013.