Could the next great novel be simply a collection of tweets and status updates? For most, the idea may seem preposterous. The depth allowed in literary fiction couldn’t be more dissimilar to the brevity valued by social media. But for producer and actor B.J. Novak, the idea of social media as literature might not be so far-fetched.
“[Social media] makes everyone aware of the minutia of conversation in literary form,” Novak told Mashable. “A status update contains so much fear and hope and worry and fakery and inadvertent honesty and style and attempts to not try too hard.”
Not long ago, Novak, who is most well-known for his roles in Saving Mr. Banksand The Office, delved into the world of literary fiction with his debut short story collection and this month’s MashableReads selection, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.
“I was overwhelmed with ideas and fragments of ideas as The Office ended. All of the thoughts and fragments of emotional expression and comedic expression … I thought, ‘I’ll just write all of them,’” Novak said.
When “The Mindy Project” premiered on Fox in fall 2012, it was widely hailed as a breakthrough in the diversity of mainstream television. Its star, Mindy Kaling, who plays a romantically challenged obstetrician in a New York hospital, became the first woman of color to create, helm and star in a successful sitcom on a major network.
But even as the broadcast networks overall are showcasing more minority actors in scripted programming than ever, Kaling is facing mounting criticism that her own sitcom isn’t diverse enough. Critics and other observers have pointed out that the popular Indian American actress and executive producer with 2.8 million Twitter followers has surrounded her prime-time fictional self with a mostly white cast.
Unlike many past and present medical shows on network television — a list that includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scrubs,” “House” and even “E.R.” — “The Mindy Project” does not feature a strong multi-ethnic ensemble. In addition to Kaling’s character, the only other minority regular cast member is Xosha Roquemore, who joined the show late in the first season as a sassy nurse.
Actor and Newton-native B.J. Novak is best known for his work on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning series “The Office,” where he played “the temp” Ryan Howard for all of its nine seasons.
Novak wore many hats on the show, including writer, director and executive producer. Now, he’s published his first collection of stories, “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.”
He visited us back in February and talked about his new book, his comedy career, and what made “The Office” such a big hit.
On why he read his short stories at a comedy club:
It’s very different to write something in a college class and have everyone tell you, “Brilliant–they don’t get you, but I do.” But when you’re standing in front of an audience and people don’t get it, it feels bad. And it should feel bad unless you really believe in it. You should be challenged because I write for the reader. I wrote TV for the viewer.
My best revisions were not done on stage or after stage. The best revisions were done the few hours before stage when I was terrified and excited. I thought, “I can’t read this paragraph. This isn’t ready,” or “This piece is boring. They won’t like it, and I’ll agree with them.” Other times I’d think, “Oh, that’s funny, can I get one more laugh after that?” You know, just selfishly. I loved and feared the audience, and I wanted to do right by them.
Most people probably know him best for his on-screen sense of humor in his role as Ryan from “The Office,” or perhaps from his movie role as one of the titular “Inglourius Basterds,” but Harvard graduate B.J. Novak has a long list of other accomplishments.
Most recently, he published a children’s book, and on Sunday, he visited the Bozeman Public Library to read the book to kids and their parents.
Calling his book “a prank on the reader,” Novak said, “It’s called “The Book With No Pictures” and the reason why it was a hit with Bozeman kids today is because there is a catch. The book has incredibly goofy words that your parents have to say if they read it to you.”
The crowds got a second celebrity sighting at the Library, as musician and part-time Montana resident John Mayer joined the crowd. But he wasn’t just there to enjoy the laughter – Novak told us that Mayer was his ride for the day.
Novak started his book tour in Bozeman but says he plans to do readings nationwide.
“I really wanted to take this all over, I wanted to take this to small towns, big cities,” he said. “With this book, you can take it anywhere because kids laugh absolutely anywhere and I thought Bozeman was a beautiful place to start.”
The official release date of “The Book With No Pictures” is September 30th. However, the Bozeman public library has a couple copies already available for check out.