Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Review: One More Thing, by B.J. Novak

Sometimes I have bizarre dreams. Like the one where a guinea pig came to my workplace and started rollerskating down our corridor (don't worry, he was safe because he wore a helmet and elbow pads). Or the one where I was an astronaut being shot into outer space, though I was so scared during lift off that I passed out for most of the trip and only came to when I returned to Earth, only remembering the part where I got to push the big red 'take-off' button (that bit was thrilling). Or the one where Brad Pitt sat next to me at a show we were both at and when I accidentally bumped his knee I casually said 'excuse me' as if he was just a normal person even though I was totally excited that I was sitting next to Brad Pitt and had just brushed his knee (I played it so cool).

Well, One More Thing is kind of like these dreams of mine in that their content is quite random and will catch you off-guard, except it'll probably entertain you more. It's a collection of short stories written by B.J. Novak, the American actor, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, author, and director, who is most widely known for writing, co-executive producing and acting in The Office. The stories range from the re-telling of well-known tales (such as the story of a re-match between the tortoise and the hare) to original Novak-ian stories.

If you want to be highly amused and simultaneously have your appropriateness boundaries tested, then this is the perfect book for you. Take, for example, the story of the lady who goes on a date with a warlord. In it, the lady casually asks the warlord what's involved with being a warlord, and the warlord casually discusses how his job entails the occasional rape and murder of innocent civilians. While I'm open to hearing different perspectives of people offered in books, the casual off-handed way these serious topics are handled in this particular story really shocked me. But not in a way that made me want to stop reading the book (though I did consider it); rather I was impressed with Novak's gutsiness at writing about such taboo topics in the ways he does.

But it's not all 'let's push the boundaries and see how far I can test readers' reading; there are some really heartwarming stories in it too. Like the story of a man who dies and is reunited with his already deceased wife in heaven. The reunited couple fall in love all over again and go on some amazing adventures together, all of which take place in heaven. How lovely is that!?

One More Thing a great book for that friend who likes weird, twisted things, and/or the friend who likes to be challenged with the types of stories they read. The stories are not only entertaining because of their content, but also because of the way Novak has told them, with plenty of clever wordplay in it too.

It's bizarre, it's strange, it's very entertaining and it's definitely worth a read if anything I've just mentioned has intrigued you. DO IT.

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