Twenty years ago, Barney the Dinosaur told the nation's children they were special. We're still paying the price.
From "one of the funniest writers in America" comes a collection of stories culled from the front lines of the millennial culture wars (Jimmy So, Daily Beast). Rife with failing rock bands, student loans, and participation trophies, Spoiled Brats is about a generation of narcissists -- and the well-meaning boomers who made them that way.
A hardworking immigrant is preserved for a century in pickle brine. A helicopter mom strives to educate her demon son. And a family of hamsters struggles to survive in a private-school homeroom. Surreal, shrewd, and surprisingly warm, these stories are as resonant as they are hilarious.
In his newest story collection, humorist and screenwriter Rich (The Last Girlfriend on Earth) uses space travel, weird science, and talking animals to knock narcissistic millennials and New York high society down to size. In the futuristic "Semester Abroad," a college student studying on Saturn (where the food "tastes like straight ass") obsesses about her boyfriend while an interplanetary war decimates her host society. In "Rip," a brilliant retelling of the Rip Van Winkle fable, a 27-year-old low-life and aspiring blogger falls asleep for three years and wakes to find that his friends have become sashimi-eating yuppies. Two of the best entries feature a character named Simon Rich, usually in the role of brat-villain. "Animals" centers on a hamster whose family Rich, the "class clown" at a hoity-toity New York elementary school, has neglected to feed. And the novella-length "Sell Out" tells the story of a Polish immigrant who, after being preserved in brining fluid for a century, wakes in present-day Brooklyn and, with no help from his self-obsessed great-great-grandson Simon, becomes an overnight hipster celebrity. Throughout the collection, Rich skewers helicopter parenting, Gen-Me technophilia, and late-capitalist malaise with cruel precision. His occasionally stereotypical female characters and hackneyed resolutions are counterbalanced by on-point details a club used to maul unhip elders, a post-genocide round of "Never Have I Ever" that pierce the heart.