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Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles…
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Sorry Please Thank You: Stories

by Charles Yu

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I absolutely loved the first story in this collection, "Standard Loneliness Package." The fantasy/science fiction premise isn't terribly original (those who can afford it can "outsource" the painful and unpleasant moments in their lives), but the character-driven story is told with wonderful grace, tenderness and style. After reading this piece I thought I'd found a new author to add to my top tier of favorites.

Unfortunately, the book went downhill from there. Picking out a few example stories:

"Hero Absorbs Major Damage" follows some characters inside a sword-and-sorcery video game who do battle with ogres and worry about their health-bars. Again, not an original idea, and this time handled rather blandly.

"Inventory" plays artsy, post-modernist, metafictional games, having a character named Charles Yu and many pages that are blank except for one or two sentences. I'm afraid I didn't see much substance underneath the surface glitz.

"Yeoman" I found downright off-putting, with unfunny humor about a yeoman on a Star Trek/Zapp Brannigan style spaceship who learns that it's part of his job description to "be prepared to die for no good reason."

More metafictional shenanigans comprise "Adult Contemporary," in which the story's protagonist is tormented by its narrator/narrative, a little like Bugs and Daffy in "Duck Amuck," only without the humor and originality.

There's an uptick at the end of the book with the titular story "Sorry Please Thank You," an achingly melancholy 3-page hymn of loneliness.

I think Yu has the talent to be a great writer. Born in 1976, he's still young (though not as young as the early-20s I would have guessed after reading "Hero Absorbs Major Damage"). Hopefully with maturity he'll become less drawn to the empty flash and shallow humor that most of these stories exhibit, and will focus on the deeply felt human elements that make "Standard Loneliness Package" so wonderful. ( )
  KarlBunker | Apr 7, 2014 |
Some pretty funny sci-fi-related stories in here. A company where the employees are paid to feel other people's pain, two Wal-Mart employees do battle with a vain zombie, a story from the point of view of a character in a D&D-type role playing game, and a Star Trek parody about a redshirt trying to avoid his fate. A couple of the stories are pretty short and a couple like "The Book of Categories" aren't as funny, but overall it's a good read if you like Douglas Adams or similar material. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
This is a really great entry point, I think, for Yu's work. Reading [b:How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe|9902193|How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe|Charles Yu|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320537641s/9902193.jpg|10491121] was a terrific intro and it established his (apparently) dominant themes on a large canvas - but it was complex and hard to grapple with at times, and I'm a sci-fi nerd. This book provides the reader with an opportunity to taste Yu's writing, to experience that cloudy melancholy, and tease the complex metafictional pyrotechnics that are on greater display in the novel. It's also a quick read - one perfectly suited to a rainy solitary Sunday.

More at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-Ir ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
A mixed collection of short stories.

Some are extremely forgettable. I have already forgotten what they were, or what they were about, or even their titles. Zombies in a super-sized mall, a pithy reference to Star Trek redshirts dying. Ho hum.

A few stood out very well - they reminded me of Philip K. Dick, and the use of science-fiction concepts to investigate human problems in an original or alternative way. The first story of 'outsourcing emotions' is painful and sensitive.

The book seems half-done, but there is some real potential here. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Only liked one story, two thumbs down. ( )
  Poprockz | Jan 29, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307907171, Hardcover)

The author of the widely praised debut novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe returns with a hilarious, heartbreaking, and utterly original collection of short stories.
 
A big-box store employee is confronted by a zombie during the graveyard shift, a problem that pales in comparison to his inability to ask a coworker out on a date . . . A fighter leads his band of virtual warriors, thieves, and wizards across a deadly computer-generated landscape, but does he have what it takes to be a hero? . . . A company outsources grief for profit, its slogan: “Don’t feel like having a bad day? Let someone else have it for you.”
 
Drawing from both pop culture and science, Charles Yu is a brilliant observer of contemporary society, and in Sorry Please Thank You he fills his stories with equal parts laugh-out-loud humor and piercing insight into the human condition. He has already garnered comparisons to such masters as Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, and in this new collection we have resounding proof that he has arrived (via a wormhole in space-time) as a major new voice in American fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:39 -0400)

"Drawing from both pop culture and science, Charles Yu is an observer of contemporary society, and in Sorry Please Thank You he fills his stories with equal parts humor and insight into the human condition. A big-box store employee is confronted by a zombie during the graveyard shift, a problem that pales in comparison to his inability to ask a coworker out on a date. A fighter leads his band of virtual warriors, thieves, and wizards across a deadly computer-generated landscape, but does he have what it takes to be a hero? A company outsources grief for profit, its slogan: Don't feel like having a bad day? Let someone else have it for you"--From publisher description.… (more)

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