How Spoiled Brats Can Make You Love Short Stories

How Spoiled Brats Can Make You Love Short StoriesSpoiled Brats by Simon Rich
Published by Little, Brown on 10/14/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 224
Buy from IndieBound

 

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.

 

  • Anita LeBeau

    Ok, that is some funny stuff. Went to read the old joke….funny! I don’t often read humor like this, maybe I should :).

    • His last book was the first time I read anything like it (I’m not sure anyone else is writing anything like it!) and I adored it immediately.

  • This sounds like a great book for someone like me as I really want to start loving short stories more but really need a cohesive collection. The fact that it’s also funny is a huge bonus. Thanks for the review!

    • I think his first collection was one of the first times I really loved reading short stories…and I think this one is even better.

  • Ohhhh NOW I know where I’d heard Simon Rich’s name. ;) You know me and short stories… and the stories you mention sound awesome!

  • I, too, don’t typically read short stories…but I’m excited about this one based on the topic. I’m glad to hear he’s funny (I didn’t realize he was ex-SNL!)! Rich is a new to me author, but I’m hoping to get to this one soon.

  • JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    That cover is pretty great, too!

  • I’m very taken with the cover, but I’ll probably read it because I love SNL alumni

  • I loved The Last Girlfriend on Earth, so I’m excited to hear Spoiled Brats kicks things up a notch!

  • Sounds good! Like a lot of novel readers out there, I’ve been hesitant about short stories . . . but this year I had a wonderful experience with Karen Russell’s short stories, and right now I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress–which is, of course, awesome. So maybe I’ll add this to the list!

    • I’ve started to branch out with short stories a bit more this year (thanks in part to Stone Mattress) and I’m loving it. I’m just about to jump into Alice Munro, so we’ll see how that goes!

  • Amy Sachs

    I’m always hesitant with short stories, but loved BJ Novak’s One More Thing collection, mainly because it was so funny. I’ll have to check this one out too!

  • guiltlessreading

    Putting this on the TBR. My short story reads lately have been phenomenal and I’m excited you gave this such a glowing review!

  • The thematic cohesiveness of this one is a point I’m going to use to SELL this book to people who are iffy about short stories. It does feel so “whole” and well done all the way around. Great review, Shannon!

  • This sounds like a lot of fun. I haven’t read many short story collections, but I enjoy them and would like to give the genre more of a try.

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