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The Mass Media

BJ Novak brings book tour to the Brattle Theater

BJ Novak
BJ Novak

On the fifth stop of the tour for his new book “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories,” author and actor BJ Novak returned to his alma mater for a singing and reading at Harvard’s Brattle Theater. The event took place on Feb. 10 and featured a selection of readings by Novak, a Q&A, and a signing afterward.

Best known for his work as a staff writer and role of Ryan “The Temp” Howard on the hit NBC sitcom “The Office,” the recently released book is Novak’s first publication. “One More Thing” features a selection of both humorous and thoughtful stories written by Novak since his leave of “The Office” in 2012. 

Novak’s return to Cambridge marked a coming-home of sorts for the Newton native, who attended Harvard University. Regarding the chosen venue for the event, Harvard Book Store, Novak named it “one of his favorite places anywhere ever.”

The event began with the story of Novak having a burger named after him at the well-known restaurant, Mr. Bartley’s, only a few hours earlier after learning that his former “Office” co-worker, fellow Mass. native and close friend, Mindy Kaling, had received the honor before him. That was all it took for Novak to win over the crowd before he began his reading.

The first reading of the night belonged to the first story in the book, The Rematch, which serves as a sequel to the well-known children’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare.” After months of training and amping himself up, the Hare challenges the Tortoise to a rematch race that he wins by a marginal amount, spouting the truth “slow and steady wins the race, ’till truth and talent claim their place.”

Subsequent readings included “The Girl Who Gave Great Advice: the story of a girl who constantly asked people what their hearts told them when prompted for advice”, “All You Have to Do: a narrative instruction of how to meet your soul mate using only a red t-shirt and the missed connections section of Craigslist”, “A New Hitler, a call for the emergence of a new Hitler that is against genocide and dictatorship”, and “Kate Moss: the story of a young girl who stares at the photo of the titular model until she eventually takes on Moss’s physical appearance”.

Novak’s Q&A featured a series of questions ranging from everything from his tenure on “The Office”, to his French-styled book trailer, to his personal philosophies about the writing process. On the concept of writers block, Novak claimed that the way he always got past it was simply to continue writing.

As for his stylistic choices, Novak went on to say that the best advice he could give was to write for one’s peers. In addition to that, he told the crowd that he writes everything in the same voice and attitude with which he speaks, whether the piece is prose, a script, or even something as simple as a tweet.
Novak is still touring, and “One More Thing” is available at bookstores.