On Thursday night last week, B.J. Novak was at the recently opened Word Bookstore in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the first night of the book tour for his new collection of short stories, One More Thing. The space was filled to capacity, and Mr. Novak was reading from his devastatingly tragic-comic vignettes: One story is about a girl on a first date with a warlord, another concerns a man desperate to know the secrets of dark matter (until he loses interest) and still another is an almost haiku-length musing on how one goes about becoming Kate Moss. Mr. Novak, a veteran performer, read with a stand-up comic’s sense of timing, and though the stories presented were by no means the darkest in the collection, there was still a George Saunders-like existentialism to them. Mr. Novak read about the nothingness at the heart of the universe. He read about hope, loss, perfection. He addressed the cynicism of the modern condition without succumbing to it.
Afterward, during the Q&A, a nervous audience member raised his hand. “So do you have any funny behind-the-scenes stories about working with Mindy Kaling or anyone on The Office?”