"Spoiled Brats" (Little, Brown and Co.), by Simon Rich
Feel the humiliation of the widowed guinea pig, so beaten down he contemplates suicide and questions his Christian faith. See through the eyes of the doting parents, who look past the signs of demonism — the pentagram birthmark and grasping claws — to find a flawless little boy. Befriend a tortured Christmas elf who is caught in a boy's sick, sexual exploits.
Simon Rich gives us each of these characters in "Spoiled Brats," an anthology as endlessly clever as it is hysterical. Rich masterfully assembled absurdist portraits that illuminate the absurd we may overlook in our own lives, taking special aim at hipster New York millennials with a certain agonizing breed of narcissism and entitlement.
That is best displayed in "Sell Out," the book's longest story, which tells of a turn-of-the-20th-century pickle maker who falls in brine, only to be sealed away for a century and then awakens in modern-day Brooklyn, New York. There, he finds a land of Thai fusion, of tight pants and circus mustaches, of minimal work and maximum complaining.
In that story and throughout the book, Rich displays brilliance and hilarity you won't soon forget. It's easily the funniest, most original read I've found in a while, and it comes with a dollop of insight to boot. I could bore you with more superlatives, but why bother? There's no chance of buyer's remorse on a book this enjoyable.
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