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One More Thing
Cover of One More Thing
One More Thing
Stories and Other Stories
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New York Times Bestseller

A startlingly original debut from the actor, writer, director, and executive producer hailed as "a gifted observer of the human condition and a very funny writer capable of winning that rare thing: unselfconscious, insuppressible laughter" (The Washington Post).
A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover that claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook. Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just . . . down.
Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element just that might make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.
New York Times Bestseller

A startlingly original debut from the actor, writer, director, and executive producer hailed as "a gifted observer of the human condition and a very funny writer capable of winning that rare thing: unselfconscious, insuppressible laughter" (The Washington Post).
A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover that claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook. Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just . . . down.
Finding inspiration in questions from the nature of perfection to the icing on carrot cake, One More Thing has at its heart the most human of phenomena: love, fear, hope, ambition, and the inner stirring for the one elusive element just that might make a person complete. Across a dazzling range of subjects, themes, tones, and narrative voices, the many pieces in this collection are like nothing else, but they have one thing in common: they share the playful humor, deep heart, sharp eye, inquisitive mind, and altogether electrifying spirit of a writer with a fierce devotion to the entertainment of the reader.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    Excerpted from the Hardcover editionChapter 1

    No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg

    Tim, nine years old, leaned next to his grandmother as she lay in her hospital bed. He gently kissed her face around the tubes in her nose.

    "I love you, Nana," said Tim. "I promise I'll visit you in heaven."

    The next day, Tim's grandmother died.

    Sixty-six years after that, Tim died.

    The first thing Tim did when he got to heaven was look for his wife.

    He was so anxious and excited to find her that he couldn't focus on anything else--not the fact that he had died, not the fact that he was in heaven, and certainly not his grandmother.

    "Is Lynn here?" he asked everyone he met. "Yes," they said, but he kept asking. "Is Lynn here?" "Yes," they laughed, "you'll see her in like two seconds!"

    And there she was, standing beside a park bench in a spring dress, looking at the same time the way she looked when he had known her last, at the hour of her death just under a year ago, and the way she looked at her very most beautiful, the day he married her, when she was twenty-two and he was twenty-five.

    It was a far deeper and sharper moment of first love than the first first moment of first love, because now, not only was he falling in love, but he was falling in love with someone he loved; and while the first time, he also believed he'd be with her forever, he was too young to consider what forever meant.

    Now here he was, truly, on the first day of forever.

    He kissed her for an eternity, which was fine, because heaven had eternities to burn. Then he kissed her for another.

    "It wouldn't have been heaven without you."

    He took her hand in his, and they strolled out of the park together.

    "Oh, and you gotta remind me," said Tim as they walked. "One of these days I have to visit my grandma. Remind me, okay?"

    "Of course!" said Lynn. "I would love to meet her."

    But first, they looked up their friends, the ones they had shared for the main length of their life together. They brought to each house a bottle of wine that never emptied, and they visited everyone for hours, laughing late into the night, reminiscing and gossiping about who had died and who hadn't. Then they'd wake up early the next morning, make coffee and French toast, and talk about the friends they had visited and whether or not heaven had changed them.

    Next they went to see Tim's parents, who were doing very well and were very happy to see both of them.

    "Have you visited Nana yet?" asked his parents.

    Not yet, said Tim, but soon.

    Next, they visited Lynn's mother.

    "You know your father's here," Lynn's mother told Lynn. Lynn was surprised to hear this. "It would be the right thing to visit him."

    Tim had never met Lynn's father, but he had heard all about their relationship. Her father abandoned her family when she was thirteen and only saw her once more, when he showed up unannounced at her high school graduation and tried to reconcile, ruining the day for her. She had retaliated by rebuffing him publicly and rudely. She did not want to see him at all, but she could tell it was the right thing to do, and heaven was the kind of place that made you want to do the right thing.

    "We'll go together," said Tim. "It'll be fine."

    Lynn's father opened the door to his oversized condominium with a huge grin. Of course he would have a condominium in heaven.

    "Remember at your high school graduation?" he said. "When you told me to go to hell?"

    He smiled like he had been looking forward to saying that line for a long time.

    "What a jerk," she said after they left....

About the Author-
  • B.J. Novak is perhaps best known for his work as a writer, actor, director, and executive producer on NBC's Emmy Award-winning comedy series The Office. He is also known for his stand up comedy performances and his roles in motion pictures such as Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and Disney's Saving Mr. Banks. He is the author of The Book With No Pictures, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and his stories have been published in The New Yorker and featured on This American Life.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 25, 2013
    Novak’s debut contains a buckshot 64 fun and funny short stories crammed into a single volume. Part Etgar Keret, part McSweeney’s, these tidy tales from the alum of TV’s The Office depart from the “how I became famous” comedian’s biography for a decidedly more literary turn. The collection’s opening story, “The Rematch,” is a clever sequel to a classic in which the hare pressures the tortoise into a rematch in an attempt to get past the most shameful defeat of his life. In another standout, “Sophia,” a young man custom-orders a sex doll, but is disappointed when he discovers that it possesses artificial intelligence (the first of its kind) and the capacity to feel love. The bulk of Novak’s stories are comedic, and more than a few are surprisingly tender. “A Good Problem to Have” features a confused senior citizen pushing into an elementary school classroom to explain how he invented the two-trains-leave-the-station math problem but never got credit for it. If the collection feels uneven at times, like a series of playful asides (a handful of the entries don’t reach beyond a few slight lines), perhaps that’s because Novak seems to have worked harder on the more substantial stories, which have the pleasing feel of being written by an author in complete control of his craft. First printing of 150,000 announced. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2014
    A debut collection of stories, ranging from two or three sentences to 18 or so pages, from Novak, best known for his work on The Office. Given the sheer number of entries in this collection, it's not surprising that Novak has both hits and misses. Among the latter are a few sketches that read like stand-up material, occasionally witty but also occasionally falling flat. Some ideas work better in conception than in execution--"Walking on Eggshells (or: When I Loved Tony Robbins)," for example, in which the narrator is blunt about wanting to have sex with the eponymous motivational speaker, or "The Ghost of Mark Twain," in which a teacher objects to the language in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and hopes to see a new edition increasing the number of times Huck uses the "N-word." At other times, however, Novak is spot-on and frequently hilarious. In "The World's Biggest Ripoff," the narrator and his family visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, Niagara Falls and the Guinness World Records Museum and find all of them wanting. The narrator then visits an "incredibly well-executed interactive holographic exhibit on the Bernie Madoff hedge fund scam of 2009" and finds the $100 entrance fee (per person) well spent. The last piece in the collection, "J. C. Audetat, Translator of Don Quixote," is also the longest, so Novak has more space in which to develop his comic ideas. A translator becomes famous translating not only Miguel de Cervantes, but also Leo Tolstoy and Marcel Proust--and his final work is a new translation of The Great Gatsby into "modern" English. Novak creates a spectrum of work from the mediocre to the deliciously tongue-in-cheek. If you don't like something, just wait--a new piece is usually only a page or two away.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2013
    He's been seen on "The Office", won a Screen Actors Award for "Inglourious Basterds", and will appear shortly in S"aving Mr. Banks" with Tom Hanks. But Novak also aspires to write, and his publisher compares him to George Saunders. Terse, Woody Allen-esque takes on the absurdities of modern life; with a 150,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from January 1, 2014
    Novak's high-concept, hilarious, and disarmingly commiserative fiction debut stems from his stand-up performances and his Emmy Awardwinning work on the comedy series, The Office, as writer, actor, director, and executive producer. Accordingly, his more concise stories come across as brainy comedy bits, while his sustained tales covertly encompass deep emotional and psychological dimensions. An adept zeitgeist miner, Novak excels at topsy-turvy improvisations on a dizzying array of subjects, from Aesop's fables to tabloid Elvis to our oracular enthrallment to the stock market. A master of cringe, Novak imagines a blind date with a warlord, a Comedy Central TV roast of Nelson Mandela, and a mortifying misunderstanding between mega-best-selling novelist John Grisham and his new editor. Writing with zing and humor in the spirit of Woody Allen and Steve Martin, Novak also ventures into the realm of George Saunders and David Foster Wallace. A boy wins a breakfast-cereal contest and discovers a shocking family secret. A sex robot falls in love. A man reveals the heartbreak behind the universally dreaded math problem about the two trains leaving the stations at different times. Baseline clever and fresh, at best spectacularly perceptive, and always commanding, Novak's ingeniously ambushing stories of longing, fear, pretension, and confusion reveal the quintessential absurdities and transcendent beauty of our catch-as-catch-can lives. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Novak's television fame is an instant lure, one that will be pitched far and wide as Novak appears on major talk shows and travels to 20 cities in concert with an immense print and online ad campaign.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Jen Chaney, The Washington Post "It isn't easy to make a reader laugh out loud. Even when confronted with the sharpest, funniest prose, many people will respond with nothing more than a quiet chuckle. . . . Whatever the reason, all I can say is good luck chuckling quietly during One More Thing, the wonderfully cockeyed, consistently hilarious debut from B.J. Novak. . . . Given his background in TV comedy writing as well as stand-up, it's not surprising that Novak knows how to stick a great line or milk a funny premise with the right amount of squeeze. What's more striking is the wild imagination he brings to these pages, taking familiar narrative constructs--a woman and a man on a blind date--and infusing them with the unexpected. . . . His style is part Steven Wright and part Charlie Kaufman, married with a sharp ear for (and satire of) contemporary pop culture. . . . . A gifted observer of the human condition and a very funny writer capable of winning that rare thing: unselfconscious, insuppressible...
  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "In one of the longer entries in his very funny debut collection of stories, B. J. Novak describes a writer and translator named J. C. Audetat, who has a gift for 'the off-the-cuff vernacular of his day'--or what might be called 'the poetry of everyday conversations.'. . . The same might be said of Mr. Novak, whose athletic imagination and ear for 'the language of his own time and place (that is, the vernacular of that 21st-century genus of young, hip Americans, known to frequent urban habitats on the East and West Coasts) are showcased in this volume. . . . Mr. Novak has an idiosyncratic voice that's distinctively his own, though One More Thing will also produce lots of comparisons to other writers. His more fully developed stories have a sense of the absurdities--and sadnesses--of contemporary American life reminiscent of George Saunders's short fiction. Others will more likely elicit comparisons to David Sedaris's books (without the curmudgeonly persona), Steve Martin's prose...
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