Analysis from unmatched socks, wet from the winter rain:
Upon accepting the task of reading a collection of short stories, I traveled back in time to all previous collections I’ve read and came up empty. I have several unread sitting on my bookshelf currently, but for one reason or another never felt compelled to open them up. I couldn’t help but feel a similar distaste of dissuasion the first sit down I had with Hits & Misses. I couldn’t help but feel prejudice against a form of literature I never even tasted. Within the first couple of stories, I even stifled a laugh or two, not letting myself fully dive into this book. Does this show a lack of fear of commitment on my part, or is this just a wasted intro paragraph in a review of a pretty good book? Well, the answer is clearly that I am derailed.
The first phrase I wrote down while reading Hits & Misses was “Ashkenazi Jew.” I am neither a religious man nor a Jewish man and never have claimed to be or will I ever claim to be. All that aside, the resulting Google search led me down a pretty interesting Hebrew wormhole. Faith and celebrity run rampant throughout these short bangers. Prior to finding out the background on Simon Rich, I could have guessed a few of his other credits. Without any background on this book, the first couple of stories caught me off guard in their ridiculousness. An unborn baby outshines his underachieving father from within the womb, and Paul Revere’s horse narrates some history, and it only gets mildly less weird from there.
A lot of these stories, in my unhumble opinion, could be stretched with little effort into full stories (or screenplays for a Simpson’s episode.) My favorite of the bunch was a longer passage regarding an overzealous monk and his quest to show his ultimate faith by removing his hands. The sarcasm is laid on thick, and you are often beaten over the head with its absurdness.
In the end, there is more to the bulk of this collection than ridiculousness and heavy-handed sarcasm. In a story about Jester who just can’t seem to see he’s standing on the wrong side of funny, and later in the closing story of a ghost, cursed to strive for something unattainable, there is an underlining taste of heart and the sadness that comes the day to day rigors of life. I’ll keep my eyes out for future work from Simon Rich, and after finding out how startling young he is (two years older and two lifetimes more successful than I), there surely will be more to come.
Analysis from a freckled finger with some new bling:
Well, guys, I finally did it!!! I picked a real winner with this one, and I will not humbly brag, but instead gloat at how my research on a good book paid off! I even managed to please L, and that is no small feat.
I loved this book. Unlike L, I have always enjoyed short stories and essays. Back in my glory days of high school drama, I would pour over humorous essays and books of prose to find the perfect narrative to dramatize and share with the world. Oh, how I needed Simon back then! I was thrilled with each new story. I read out loud to my fiancé several of the stories because frankly, I knew he would never sit down to read them, and they must be shared. Paul Revere’s horse story was, for sure, a fan favorite. Oddly enough, the only one I found to be a bit drawn out and tedious was the one L appreciated in particular. While I appreciated the humor and sarcasm, I so disliked the character that it was almost emotionally draining to endure.
I want to get to know the author. What kind of human, that looks like a small child, by the way, has all of these wonderful and creative thoughts going on in his head? What other stories does he have to tell? I certainly can’t wait to find out. I have read the book twice now and have started for a third round. I love trying to find the hidden agenda behind his stories or the dialogue he is leaving out but subtly hinting at. It’s like a work of art in a gallery. There is a massive canvas filled with one small blue dot, and it could represent how tiny we are in this massive galaxy or how nothing can truly ever be pure. It could also just be a fucking dot, and the artist just thinks it’s hilarious that we are reading so much into it. So maybe Simon is having a laugh at my dissection, but who the hell cares. I’m having a blast!