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One More Thing

Cover of One More Thing

One More Thing

Stories and Other Stories

B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction.

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes--only to discover how 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 also 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 that might just 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction.

A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes--only to discover how 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 also 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 that might just 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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    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 a writer and actor best known for his work on NBC's Emmy Award-winning comedy series The Office as an actor, writer, director, and executive producer. 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 a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in English and Spanish literature.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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