Ohhh, Simon Rich, how I love thee. Rich first hooked me with 2013's The Last Girlfriend On Earth, a short story collection full of brief, whip-smart stories on relationships and gender. Every satirical eye-ful was something special, and Spoiled Brats lives up to the hype of that initial collection. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through some service or other that I can't remember right now.
At the beginning of Spoiled Brats, I feared the magic might be gone. I mean, really, could anything live up to the surprise of The Last Girlfriend on Earth? But then the magic slapped me in the face. This collection is similar to his previous work for its brief stories that pack a punch, but this time Rich is examining and critiquing Millenials...from helicopter parents to hipsters right on down to jazz blogs and artisanal pickles.
My very favorite story was, "Sell Out," about a Jewish immigrant named Hershel Rich works in a pickle factory. One day he falls into the vat of brine, the lid is closed, and is opened years down the line when everyone he's has known is gone. BUT, he has a 27-year-old great-great-grandson named Simon Rich! The two men are the same age since Hershel was preserved in the brine, and suddenly outdated ideologies clash with Millenial entitlement. It's hilarious, thought-provoking, and remarkably brainy.
Want a taste of a few more stories? Here ya go...
In "Family Business," a young chimpanzee offends his working class father by choosing to become a research animal instead of joining the family grub-hunting business. In "Proud Mom," a young mother is so besotted she doesn't realize her child is actually, truly a monster. And in "Animals," the fate of a terrified classroom hamster hangs in the balance when a notorious kid is picked for hamster care duty. (From Goodreads.)
There are quite a few touches of Rip Van Winkle in this little collection...some overt and some less so. There's also a lot of taking aim at family dynamics and old-school vs. new-school morality. There are some happy endings, some wonky endings, and some cringe-worthy moments, but I just can't get over how clever it all is and that in the midst of its cleverness it's still charming, good storytelling.
I gotta hand it to you, Simon Rich, you might be my new author crush.
Pub. Date: October 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company