Superworse : A Remix of Superbad: Stories and Pieces

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The original McSweeney's Superbad comprised more than two dozen pieces in various genres from serious fiction to post-modern satire to lyric. As Susan Minot put it, Greenman's mind may contain "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 surrealist, a nut, and genius...a child prodigy...and a poet." The new Soft Skull edition will reconceive Superbad with an eye toward its overall architecture, emphasizing that the individual pieces are intricately related to one another, as movements in a symphony or gears in a clockwork. Onge, the [fictitious] editor who introduced Superbad, will oversee the paperback, allowing a clear set of themes and characters to emerge from the welter of styles. The book is tightly constructed, with a mirror-image arrangement and many characters, not all human, threaded throughout. Rather than conceiving this project simply as a paperback edition, the release is more like a remix, in the fashion of popular music. Superbad was a humor collection in the finest McSweeney's tradition; Superworse is a novel in the spirit of Borges and Barthelme.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 156 pages
  • 142.2 x 209.3 x 11.9mm | 204.12g
  • Berkeley, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 1932360131
  • 9781932360134

Review quote

"Just when you think Greenman has thoroughly excavated all available humor, he surprises with a snipe from an unforeseen direction."

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Review Text

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. Something extraordinary. (Kirkus Reviews)

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