“They buried my wife in a shoebox in Central Park.”
This is the third collection of short stories by Simon Rich I’ve read, and it contains the longer story that was adapted into the screenplay for “American Pickle” which I have not seen, but will talk about soon. The collection begins with a kind of story that Rich writes a lot, a rendering of a semi-autobiographical story (or one in which he plays a role) but from a much different perspective. This story is a story from the class hamster, Mrs Princess, a male hamster whose wife has recently died because of negligence from one Simon Rich, the class-clown who is more concerned with yucks than feeding. Having just been widowered by Rich, our narrator is deeply concerned when he is selected again to feed the hamster and his orphaned children. There are plenty of other stories like this one where an animal or a thing or something else is given a chance to tell their stories.
The longer story “American Pickle” is about a Jewish factory worked who falls into a vat of pickle juice and is accidentally preserved for a hundred years. When he is revived he seeks out his great-grandson, who turns out to be Simon Rich, a script doctor who doesn’t seem to do a lot of work, but does have a drinking problem. This turns in part to be a story about the excesses of modern New York life, until the pickle, Herschel, has to strike out on his own with only seven cents in his pocket (which turn out to be near mint rare pennies he can sell) and makes pickles to sell on the street. He charges $4 a jar, but quickly realizes he can sell them for much much more. Maybe this modern life isn’t so bad?
The story collection is less good than the previous ones, but I did like the long story a lot, so it’s a trade.