All the Small Things

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Shrine Auditorium

Some people like to start conversations with “What would happen if.” What would happen if there was a black-ops team that hired out to help you get actual closure after a relationship by erasing all traces of the ex’s existence? What would happen if the guy who invented that “A train leaves Chicago at” math problem was upset that he never received adequate compensation? What would happen if you secretly won a big cash prize in a box of Frosted Flakes when you were 10 but your parents were staunchly opposed to sugar cereal– you get the idea. 

For most people, these become a running gag of conversation with the kind of friends who tolerate that sort of thing. For author B.J. Novak, famous from his work as actor and producer on The Office, they became a book of stories: One More Thing. The question is, is it any good?
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Battling the Currents

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While I was eavesdropping on two girls talking in the student center at Northwestern, one posited rather intelligently that dystopias were depressing but showed the persistence of humanity. That’s what makes dystopian fiction so compelling: it shows us a future gone very wrong, but it also shows us how the human spirit can go very, very right. The thing about On Such A Full Sea, the new novel from Chang-Rae Lee that has been getting attention from the New York Times and The New Yorker on down, is it’s not depressing. Continue reading