I heard about Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich because I read somewhere that B.J. Novak (author of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, also actor/writer for The Office…holy smokes, he’s so cool) recommended it and I felt like reading comedy. B.J. Novak certainly knows his comedy and I’m not just saying that because he’s a very successful comedy writer (although if I’m being honest, that’s a big part of why I’m saying that). Spoiled Brats is a collection of short stories that seem to touch on every complaint and criticism I’ve ever heard about Millennials. This had potential to be one cynical moan fest about kids these days, but Simon Rich manages to take the truths (good and bad) of todays youth culture and turn them into genuinely funny, slightly (sometimes completely) out of this world short stories.
One of my favorite of this collection was “Distractions” in which the reader discovers that a writer that thinks the literary community is out to get him actually does have the literary community out to get him. It’s a common complaint from the millennials, that the world is out to get them and this story inspects the truth of that by heightening that complaint to the most extreme reality. This seems to be the common theme of Simon Rich’s stories. He takes every day complaints and exaggerations and inspects the “what if” of it with complete seriousness. It’s the mix of completely serious with these ludicrous situations that make his stories so entertaining at the same time as honestly pointing out the reality of our situations.
I sometimes find comedic writing hard to take. Some authors try to be sarcastic and/or deadpan and it comes across in writing as just plain boring or very very snarky, which is rarely fun to read. While others go for the punch line jokes that are funny but tend to get tiresome after just a few pages. Simon Rich made the right choice in writing short stories rather than one long book; the content was never boring and only ever appropriately snarky. I guarantee while reading you will recognize some qualities of people you know, hopefully it won’t often be yourself.