Spoiled Brats

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Twenty years ago, Barney the Dinosaur told the nation's children they were special. We're still paying the price.

From "one of the funniest writers in America"* comes a collection of stories culled from the front lines of the millennial culture wars. Rife with failing rock bands, student loans, and participation trophies, Spoiled Brats is about a generation of narcissists-and the well-meaning boomers who made them that way.

A hardworking ...

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Spoiled Brats

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Twenty years ago, Barney the Dinosaur told the nation's children they were special. We're still paying the price.

From "one of the funniest writers in America"* comes a collection of stories culled from the front lines of the millennial culture wars. Rife with failing rock bands, student loans, and participation trophies, Spoiled Brats is about a generation of narcissists-and the well-meaning boomers who made them that way.

A hardworking immigrant is preserved for a century in pickle brine. A helicopter mom strives to educate her demon son. And a family of hamsters struggles to survive in a private-school homeroom.

Surreal, shrewd, and surprisingly warm, these stories are as resonant as they are hilarious.

*Jimmy So, Daily Beast

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Patton Oswalt
The book is a slice of Rich's fascination and exasperation with, and ultimately his love of, the millennial generation…Rich is in the thick of millennial existence…And this collection of stories is…as hilarious a portrait as you'll find of the self-involved, easily outraged, post-post-post-post-ironic world into which we've dumped the next generation.
Publishers Weekly
In his newest story collection, humorist and screenwriter Rich (The Last Girlfriend on Earth) uses space travel, weird science, and talking animals to knock narcissistic millennials and New York high society down to size. In the futuristic "Semester Abroad," a college student studying on Saturn (where the food "tastes like straight ass") obsesses about her boyfriend while an interplanetary war decimates her host society. In "Rip," a brilliant retelling of the Rip Van Winkle fable, a 27-year-old low-life and aspiring blogger falls asleep for three years and wakes to find that his friends have become sashimi-eating yuppies. Two of the best entries feature a character named Simon Rich, usually in the role of brat-villain. "Animals" centers on a hamster whose family Rich, the "class clown" at a hoity-toity New York elementary school, has neglected to feed. And the novella-length "Sell Out" tells the story of a Polish immigrant who, after being preserved in brining fluid for a century, wakes in present-day Brooklyn and, with no help from his self-obsessed great-great-grandson Simon, becomes an overnight hipster celebrity. Throughout the collection, Rich skewers helicopter parenting, Gen-Me technophilia, and late-capitalist malaise with cruel precision. His occasionally stereotypical female characters and hackneyed resolutions are counterbalanced by on-point details—a club used to maul unhip elders, a post-genocide round of "Never Have I Ever"—that pierce the heart. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
A Slate Best Book of 2014

"I can't recommend any Simon Rich book - especially this one - highly enough. From the hyper-competitive rituals of Scrabble players to the laments of a grieving, widowed hamster in an elementary school classroom, each story in Spoiled Brats opens with a brilliant comedic perspective that only gets funnier, more fascinating, more surprising, and more insightful from there. First-rate comedy with a heartbeat, this is one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors."—B.J. Novak, author of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories and star of "The Office"

"Simon Rich is a comedic shape shifter, adopting the plights of hamsters and hipsters alike, and Spoiled Brats is vividly hilarious in the way Woody Allen and Donald Barthelme are vividly hilarious. Simon Rich is also much taller in real life than you'd think. Like the reverse of an actor."—Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number

"Laugh-out-loud funny. [Rich] can conjure authentic, from-the-abdomen laughter on almost every page. He stacks surrealism on top of slick satire on top of pure childish silliness in such a brilliant and condensed way, there are sometimes three laugh-out-loud moments within the same paragraph... This collection of stories isn't simply the funniest book of the year. It might just make us think about the spoiled brats we've become."—The Guardian (UK)

"I hate Simon Rich, the person. I love Simon Rich, the writer. This book is my favorite one of his yet."—Charles Yu, author of Sorry Please Thank You

"From the author who brings new meaning to laugh-out-loud, comes a collection of stories about a generation of narcissists and their parents, who only had the best intentions. Rich's uproarious stories will undoubtedly have you nodding in agreement."—Harper's Bazaar

"A mix of gentle surrealism and smiley satire, the stories are bright, witty, occasionally tart, and just the right side of sappy... Just as most of Woody Allen's prose is given depth by his terror of death, so, as the title suggests, Spoiled Brats attacks the privileged excesses of liberal America in a fashion akin to what we used to call anatomizing their follies."—Telegraph (UK)

"Hilarious characters... every story rings true."—Library Journal

"Spoiled Brats might just be the funniest book of the year."—Harper's Bazaar

"What you can expect from Rich's writing is to be transported to a place that is at its core, fundamentally familiar, but at the same time, utterly confusing. It's like entering your childhood home through a secret passage no one ever told you about. It's these different approaches that make Rich's writing so enjoyable, because his stories are absurd without being entirely fantastical. They are relatable, more than anything."—MTV.com

"Simon Rich, in his new collection, Spoiled Brats, is in the Blazing Saddles phase of his writing career... As hilarious a portrait as you'll find of the self-involved, easily outraged, post-post-post-post-ironic world into which we've dumped the next generation... As solid a piece of comic writing as I've read in a long time."
New York Times Book Review

"Ridiculous in the very best way... Spoiled Brats mocks its protagonists without being mean; we find ourselves sympathizing and relating with these characters even as we laugh at them. Straight-up cynicism feels a little cruel, but Rich stays away from that, and his stories make the same old tropes feel fresh and funny and new again... Spoiled Brats is undeniably funny, but its real genius is that, like the best comedy, it encourages introspection as well."

"Smartly funny and occasionally self-lacerating."
Chicago Tribune

"Spoiled Brats is brilliant, original, hilarious... An anthology as endlessly clever as it is hysterical...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."
Associated Press

"Just lovingly nails everything repellent and beautiful about millennials."—Patton Oswalt

The Washington Post
"This Valentine's Day get a box of chocolates and Simon Rich's hysterical new collection....it might just be the best one-night stand you'll ever have."
Patrick Cassels - New York Times Book Review
"His imagined situations read like sketches he might have conceived at his old job as a writer for Saturday Night Live...Rich knows how to balance the smart with the funny."
Joe Berkowitz - Fast Company
Praise for Simon Rich and his work:

"It's always fairly obvious when a 'Shouts and Murmurs' piece in The New Yorker is the product of Simon Rich. Telltale signs include the elegant skewering of adult human behavior, as glimpsed through the eyes of children, animals, spectral beings, or inanimate objects-and the fact that the reader is hunched over laughing."

The San Francisco Chronicle
"[The Last Girlfriend on Earth] is technically adept, inarguably funny...Rich's humor is well draw, his punch lines always on time."
Kirkus Reviews
Humorist Rich's (The Last Girlfriend on Earth, 2013, etc.) latest collection is predictably funny, though sometimes digs deeper. Imagine a petty, oft-rejected writer complaining to his girlfriend about the "literary establishment": "They hate that I'm trying to do something new—it terrifies them!" It's a familiar rant to the girlfriend, who leaves, feigning frustration, only to place a call as soon as she hits the sidewalk, whispering, "He's onto us," and then…well, never mind. This review shouldn't ruin the punch line of Rich's "Distractions," for the pleasure of this and other pieces comes from watching each joke unfold. Unfortunately, this also suggests the book's larger hindrance: There's not much here besides the jokes. The result is amusing, sure, but slight, like watching an uneven episode of Saturday Night Live (where Rich once worked as a writer) in which some skits stick the landing, some provoke mild chuckles, and some offer the opportunity to use the bathroom or play with your phone. The nearly 80-page novella Sell Out suggests something much different, however. In it, a hardworking immigrant in early-20th-century Brooklyn is accidentally preserved in pickle brine, only to awaken 100 years later. He tracks down his great-great-grandson, the author himself, a self-absorbed, neurotic disappointment. This story is funny, but it gestures toward something deeper about the dreams we foist upon our family members and icons and also the ensuing disappointments. Elsewhere, Rich puts his jokes first, but in Sell Out, the characters are paramount, and readers ought to return to this story. Otherwise, once is the right amount of times to read most of these pieces—and given Rich's breezy style, once won't be a chore at all. Humor comes easily to Rich, but he's at his best when he pushes against the boundaries of his jokes.
Library Journal
Rich, former Harvard Lampoon president and former Saturday Night Live staffer, as well as an established author (Last Girlfriend on Earth) and New Yorker contributor, has penned a collection of stories about the narcissistic millennial generation and how they got that way. His hilarious characters include a family of hamsters trying to survive in the fifth-grade classroom of a private school, a chimp who longs to see the world, a demon who just wants to be himself, a pickle maker who is revived after fermenting for 100 years in brine, and the devil himself. Settings vary from Saturn to sewers to the North Pole. Yet every story rings true and provides a rueful reminder of how helicopter moms and conservative dads contribute to the success of their children. The stories parody life in the 21st century and clearly explain where we all went wrong. VERDICT Recommended as funny and insightful reading. [See Prepub Alert, 5/6/14.]—Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316368629
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 10/14/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 52,285
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Rich

Simon Rich is the author of The Last Girlfriend on Earth, What in God's Name, Ant Farm, Free-Range Chickens, and Elliot Allagash. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2015

    Laugh out loud hilarious. Simon Rich, a writer for the New Yorke

    Laugh out loud hilarious. Simon Rich, a writer for the New Yorker and former SNL Screenwriter, writes searingly hilarious satirical vignettes on milennials. Won't be appreciated if you're not of a certain age / familiar with New York or the East Coast/ particular Jewish things he's riffing off. I LOVED it, it had me laughing out loud on the train.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

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