Synopses & Reviews
In Ben Greenman's wildly original debut, slapstick humor sits comfortably and sometimes not so comfortably alongside literary fiction and experimental writings.
The twenty-five pieces in this collection range from the traditional to the impossible. "What 100 People, Real and Fake, Believe About Dolores" tells an old story boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy may or may not be implicated in disappearance of girl in a surprising and entirely new way. In "Blurbs," which owes as much to Warner Bros. cartoons as to daily newspapers, a sly egomaniacal author imagines the critical reception of the piece he is writing.
Superbad is populated by characters from disparate walks of life: in "Snapshot," an aged Russian researcher who struggles to reconcile with his two grown sons and win the love of an American academic; in "Getting Nearer to Nearism," a puckish Italian artist; and even real-life celebrities such as Mick Jagger and Marlon Brando.
Mixing elements of Jorge Luis Borges, Donald Barthelme, and Albert Brooks, Greenman attempts a high-wire act that combines literature, comedy, and the pleasures of the text. Hilarious and unforgettable, Superbad is the first book of the rest of your life.
"[O]ften astonishing and occasionally annoying....Artists and their sycophants make easy fodder for comic writers, yet Greenman never stoops to the obvious. Just when you think Greenman has thoroughly excavated all available humor, he surprises with a snipe from an unforeseen direction." Time Out New York
"I don't know what goes on in Ben Greenman's mind, but inside it there seems to be a Russian short story writer, a slap-stick gag writer, an art critic, a literary critic, a cultural commentator, a cowboy, a satirist, a scientist, a postmodernist, an anti-postmodernist, a surrealist, a nut, a genius, a stand-up comedian, a child prodigy, a dreamer, and a poet. Needless to say, all these characters make for compelling, mysterious reading. I was spellbound." Susan Minot, author of Evening
"Ben Greenman is a smart, funny, elegant writer in the tradition of the late lamented Donald Barthelme and Veronica Geng." Kurt Anderson, author of Turn of the Century
"Greenman has a wicked, mercurial intellect and a light touch, and he's the genuine article. 'Marlon Brando's Dreaming' alone is equal to the entire artistic output of a respectable civilization." William Monahan, author of Light House
"It can be difficult to tell whether there's anything but dead air at the eye of Greenman's stylistic hurricanes, though the humanism he exhibits in his traditional stories offers reason to hope that he's not just being clever for the sake of cynical virtuosity. Regardless of intent, the contents of Superbad are wickedly funny and curiously effective. Self-aware, self-referential, and occasionally just self-indulgent, Superbad pulls off an impressive hat trick by convincing audiences not to analyze it nearly so much as it analyzes itself." Tasha Robinson, The Onion
Ben Greenman's raucous new collection of stories and pieces ranges from the traditional to the impossible, from the Italian to the Russian, from the musical to the minimal. Greenman constructs layer upon layer of artifice, filling the spaces between with thousands of smooth, brown pellets of insight and humor. An editor at the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to McSweeney's , Greenman seamlessly assimilates Borges, Bartheleme, Chekhov and Calvino, developing asensibility at once wholly contemporary and tenderly reminiscent.
About the Author
Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker. His fiction and journalism have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, McSweeney's, and Miami New Times. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. Visit www.bengreenman.com for more information.