One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak – Book Review

One More Thing Cover.jpg

I had this book on my radar for quite some time. Enough time that I thought I had it on pre-sale. I didn’t. On my last Barnes and Noble haul I purchased it and I couldn’t have done anything more rightly at that moment.

I wish I had the book with me so that I would be able to be more precise but since I finished it at the BF’s house that’s where it stayed. I did just finish it a few hours ago, so I’m hoping my memory of it is still on point.

To start off I thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter, or story (the book IS titled One More Thing Stories and More Stories). The story’s perspective was what reallyl got me. After reading it I experienced that, “Hu. Wow! I can’t believe I never saw it that way. It’s so simple and I never saw it differently.” Maybe I had already been given this vantage point but since I feel so enlightened about it I perhaps have not.

We’ve all heard the saying “Slow and steady wins the race” and I believe we all know where it hails from, right? B.J. Novak has changed that lifelong notion that the tortoise is the one to learn from the most. Most people I know that refer to this tale of life lesson have charged the hare with conceit and self-destruction, and have given so much credit to the tortoise. So much so that in this story the tortoise has now made a living on conferences and appearances speaking on how slow and steady gets the job done. The hare, poor hare, has lived long enough in this perceived failure and attempted to restart his life but to no avail. I’m turning this long story turned short story into a long story. I’ll speed it up. The hare requests a rematch. The tortoise declines. The hare trains and begins to convince others that a rematch would be the best thing to do. After much pressure from those around him, the tortoise agrees. The hare wins setting new records and is celebrated. The closing to that story went something like this: slow and steady wins the race. Until hard work and talent take its place.

I mean, you always hear of the person who sat around and waited and finally got the victory. You root for him because well, something WAS accomplished; technically. And you always hear of the undisciplined athlete who should have been at the top and he becomes a cliché because he didn’t. But he becomes the cliché because he didn’t attempt to persevere. That’s what the hare did, that’s what the story wants to convey- that there is a second chance out there after your fuck-up- if you want it badly enough. (At least that’s what I took from it.)

This book is filled with observational commentary of today’s society. There’s a story on how the calendar was invented, which is quite funny because the person who created it is going about his day and journal writing as anyone in today’s world would. The Elvis story is another favorite. Novak has challenged what I think of writers of my generation to be (I think I’m in the same generation, but he’s published so…). For the Elvis one he spins the narrative in such a way that Elvis himself had something to do with all of the Elvis’ in Las Vegas; that he, Elvis, is living and reliving the best Elvis he’s ever been and has always wanted to be.

There’s a story, a script actually, on the Roast of Nelson Mandela. Seriously? I love how there are no boundaries for Novak.

One story connects with another in an unexpected way, which gave me joy because since they were narrated in different styles I wouldn’t think there would be a connection to any previous one.

There are a few one page, simple, deep and insightful stories and there are funny, longer, light hearted ones.

This one story is about a man who purchased a sex robot and returned it because the robot fell in love with him. This guy became the butt of every late night comedians joke and a headline on news sites. The criticism in this one is how society has decided to focus on the fact that he returned a sex robot rather than the fact that a robot could fall in love. Continuing to push the boundary, he questions the motives behind the constant attack of the choices private individuals make by asking what if he had requested for the robot to fall in love with him but didn’t. Would the weight of judgement be the same?

My favorite are the ones about love.

I wouldn’t doubt that this book will end up being a classroom reading assignment. I hope it doesn’t (there’s a story about that, actually). There is so much to pick and reflect on that it can speak to generations now and in the future. I want to buy a bunch of copies and pass them out to young readers because I feel there is much to learn from this book. A lot of critical analysis has gone into every story. If I were to ever think of writing something such as Novak has, I would pass out. His work and writing skills seem to be effortless, but nonetheless impacting.

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