B.J. Novak: ‘One More Thing’

You’re probably familiar with B.J. Novak from The Office as actor/comedian and screenwriter. He recently took his writing skills off the screen and wrote a book of short stories called One More Thing. I highly recommend listening to it as an audio book, not only because celebs (including some of The Office clan Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer plus celebs Katy Perry, Lena Dunham and others) do some of the voices with Novak. But because of his background, his storytelling is very dialogue-driven and the many comedic moments are written in such modern voice that they work best out loud. Novak says he actually performed the stories many times in front of a crowd to work out the kinks and the punch lines.

Some of the stories are really flash fiction or something less classifiable–more like little vignettes than fully formed short stories–and my favorites of the whopping 63 pieces were the longer ones where Novak delves into strange, improbable–or impossible–scenarios. For instance, one story “Sophia” is about a sex robot that learns to love. And there’s the one where a woman is on a date with a warlord, and the one that takes place in heaven. In all of the absurd and imaginative scenarios he puts his characters, they function within those constraints in complete rationality. The woman asks the warlord questions about his job. The couple in heaven accepts that they’re in heaven and go about discovering their new life.

As to be expected, B.J. the screenwriter isn’t just apparent in the dialogue-driven language, but in lots of pop culture references. There are cameos from Justin Beiber to Nelson Mandela. The whole of the book is written from a very current place of cultural awarness. Stories utilize Craiglist and Facebook and embrace pop culture references in a way most literary stories do not. Novak surely had many influences, but his style comes across as all his own. If you’re a pop culture junkie, or looking for a humorous read that also has soul, check out the awesome book trailer that features our favorite Mindy Kaling and then get the book.

Also not to be missed: this HelloGiggles interview with Novak by his little sister!

Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.

Image from Random House

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