I recently read One More Thing, a book of short stories by B.J. Novak. No, none of the stories was about Columbo, which you can mark down in the “bummer” column as a yes. However, despite this clear flaw (because we can all agree that by naming one’s book this, there is clearly a promise for Columbo to show up somewhere), the stories were quirky, funny, and just what you think/want B.J. Novak to sound like. The longish stories were the best stories but the shortest ones often felt like they were good ideas that just never got finished. In any case, I appreciated that Novak wrote stories in his comedic voice, but they were actual stories, instead of the usual fare from comedy writer types these days where they are often, at the books’ cores, mostly about selling their own brand via writing that sort of memoir that doesn’t have a lot of mem in the oir. Many of Novak’s stories have a fantastical premise but always stay in reality either in tone or theme– for example the very first story is a retelling of the Tortoise and the Hare tale, where the Hare demands a rematch and wrestles with the pressure of a possible second embarrassing loss. How to make the Tortoise and the Hare filled with humor and pathos for an adult sensibility? He does it.
Just remember, no Columbo though.