A “remix” of some previously published stories and funny bits that amuses, and amuses some more.
New Yorker editor and occasional fictionalist Greenman has many of the stylistic hallmarks of the McSweeney’s crew—a hyper-reflexive sense of satirical humor, post-postmodern structure, and a sneaky knack for rendering the personal—and, fortunately, no delusions of being the messiah of literature. Not surprisingly, he has already published under the McSweeney’s imprint, which is where, in hardcover, most of these pieces first appeared, under the title Superbad. It’s not clear exactly how much this book differs from the last; the stories, largely, are similar, and again they feature the imaginary Laurence Onge, the putative mentor to Greenman (“I can only commit the crime of improvement”). What remains after the “remix” is a tasty selection of longer and shorter stories that are funnier than just about anything this side of Neal Pollack. Not surprisingly, it’s the shorter ones that spring to mind afterward, since “long” usually meaning serious and therefore not funny. “Notes on Revising Last Night’s Dream” is just a scribbled piece of nonsense, but it kicks nonetheless (“Knife next to breakfast plate need not bloom into flowers”), and “Marlon Brando’s Dreaming” is four pages of disquietingly disgusting wonderfulness. Longer pieces indeed often fare less well, like the dreary, Russian-set “Snapshot,” although the bleak “Theft of a Knife,” about a hapless rich man on a 19th-century train who’s relieved of everything he’s got, has a morbid profundity about it that lingers. And it wouldn’t do not to mention the genius “Blurbs,” which constructs an entire story out of made-up book-critic blurbs, including even one from this publication.