Published by Little, Brown on 10/14/2014
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I’ve long been a person who enjoys a short story here and there, but rarely goes hunting for collections (and I don’t think I’m alone). The exception to that rule is Simon Rich. After hearing raves over his 2013 collection, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, I picked it up and immediately fell in love with Rich’s quick, offbeat humor. With his fourth collection Spoiled Brats, Rich not only proves that love wasn’t just a fluke—he turns it up a notch.
It’s funny AND smart
It should come as no surprise that a former writer for Saturday Night Live knows how to craft a well-written joke, but Simon Rich does it with a keen sense of both his audience and the specific, timely world we’re living in. At just 30, Rich is deeply immersed in the generation he questions, embraces and critiques in each of his stories. Though I loved The Last Girlfriend on Earth, Rich has completely outdone himself with the smart and perfectly ironic social commentary in Spoiled Brats.
There’s a distinct theme
That commentary—the concept of Spoiled Brats themselves—becomes the thread that weaves the stories in the collection together without ever feeling blatant or forced. Readers who struggle with far-flung or haphazardly gathered story collections will appreciate the cohesiveness.
With tons of variety
Without a doubt, the collection’s masterpiece is the 74 page near-novella Sell Out, which tells the tale of Rich’s great-great-grandfather returning to Brooklyn after 100 years accidentally brined in a pickle vat. Yet, Spoiled Brats is sprinkled with vastly shorter pieces that play with time and reality in incredible ways without losing touch with Rich’s central theme. From the opening story, told from the perspective of a classroom hamster, to the play on an old joke that turned into a viral hit earlier this year, Rich has a firm grasp on both classic and quirky humor.