A Comedy of Nobodies: A Collection of Stories

Blackstone. May 2024. 170p. ISBN 9798212235341. $27.99. F
DEBUT Humorist Ryan’s debut short story collection follows four friends, Charlie, Mike, Ted, and Nora, over the course of a semester at Harvard, as they go on bad dates, take advantage of free church brunch, and evade bullies and Russian mobsters. The quartet soak in every experience they encounter, often at their own peril, and refuse to stay inside their comfort zones. They hit numerous highs and lows, as in “The Last American Pie,” when they work up the courage to play “American Pie” instead of the national anthem at a hockey game and are immediately booed out of the arena. The friends never cease to find the humor in a bad situation, meeting each challenge with a wryness reminiscent of Larry David. The stories are loosely connected through plot, but each has its own theme and wraps up nicely in a sometimes heavy-handed moral. The dialogue is fast-paced and quippy, with all the romance and pretensions of youth.
VERDICT With their energetic narrative and relentless humor, Ryan’s stories are both entertaining and thought-provoking, making this book endlessly quotable and hard to put down. Fans of Ryan’s observational TikTok shorts will enjoy the same irreverent humor in this longer, immersive format.
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