#CBR6 Review #49: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I never really got into audiobooks (unless they were the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale), but my sister recommended B.J. Novak’s One More Thing specifically for the audiobook. I gave it a try, and it’s been a delight.

I’ll be separating this review into the content and then the medium of audiobook, because there are separate things to say about each of them. First, the stories themselves: it’s a mixed bag of genuinely interesting, too-clever, and mediocre. Novak is a very talented writer, and I’m interested to see what work he can come up with, or what a novel of his would be like. He can turn a phrase well or convey a scenario. The stories are so wildly eclectic, though, that it’s sometimes hard to know what to think about them. There’s one that features a roast of Nelson Mandela that I genuinely did not get, and some pithy one-liners that are intentionally meant to be clever. I’m not always a fan of those.

On the other hand, there are some real gems. “The Something by John Grisham” is easily one of the best of the lot. It skewers what I call “airport fiction” quite cleverly, and it’s very funny. I also greatly appreciated “The Ghost of Mark Twain,” since I am developing an American Literature course for undergrads, and this would be an interesting addition to the scholarship surrounding censorship of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And then there’s “Sophia,” the first sex robot capable of falling in love. It’s a diverse collection, and it features an array of interesting ideas that I would like Novak to further develop in another collection.

So, let’s talk about the audiobook. IT’S SO GOOD YOU GUYS. If you are at all a fan of The Office, you will have so much fun imagining everyone goofing off and reading it loud. One of my favorites in that respect was “Julie and the Warlord,” read by Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson. All I could think of was this:

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Mindy Kaling’s readings are invigorating, too. But I have to say, Emma Thompson’s reading of “The Literalist’s Love Poem” is wryly hilarious. There are several other voices–Julianne Moore, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Carey Mulligan, and Jason Schwartzmann–that makes this a better-than-average audiobook.

In short: One More Thing is worth the read, but do it through audiobook. You’ll be highly entertained. And, in the words of my esteemed sister, you’ll probably sing “Ryan Started the Fire” at least once while reading it.

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