The debut collection of raucous, dark, strange, satirical stories from the former Late Show with Stephen Colbert writer and New Yorker contributor, featuring a foreword by Stephen Colbert
“Jen Spyra’s stories are shocking, silly, smart, and absurdly funny. Underline both those words, I don’t care how much it costs!”—Tina Fey
A bride so desperate to get in shape for her wedding that she enrolls in a new kind of workout program that promises the moon but costs more than she bargained for. A snowman who, on the wish of a child, comes to life in a decidedly less savory way than in the childhood classic. And in the title story, a time-hopping 1940s starlet tries to claw her way to the top in modern-day Hollywood, despite being ridiculously unwoke.
In this uproarious, addictive debut, Jen Spyra takes a culture that seems almost beyond parody and holds it up to a funhouse mirror, immersing the reader in a world of prehistoric influencers, woodland creatures plagued by millennial neuroses, and an all-out birthday bash determined to be the most lavish celebration of all time, by any means necessary.
Welcome, brave soul, to the world of Jen Spyra.
Former Late Show with Stephen Colbert writer Spyra debuts with a raunchy, uneven satirical collection. The author's shtick is to mash up historical eras and cultural reference points, but generally things land with a thud. It works, though, in the title story, where Ruby Russell, orphaned at seven, makes it to 1940s Hollywood and the big time. Passing up the lead in Casablanca, Ruby takes another role instead, and during filming, time travels to the 21st century and wins a spot on The Bachelor, where she reveals an anachronistic screw-your-way-to-the-top mentality. Elsewhere, there is talk of probiotics and volumizing shampoo among cave women in "The First Influencer," and a girl meets Sherlock Holmes and Watson on a dating app in "The Adventure of the Mistaken Right Swipe." In "My Dearest Caroline," a soldier writes to his wife during the Civil War, confessing and retracting incestuous sexual peccadilloes after each brush with death ("This might sound random," he writes, "but if you haven't opened my last letter yet, don't even bother"). In "Bridal Bodies," women wishing to shed a few pounds before their weddings are purloined by fascistic trainers. Some of these premises feel phoned in, but Spyra's command of the language is indisputable. The author's TV writing and New Yorker columns are funny, but here the laughs are few and far between.