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Hits and Misses: Stories

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Humor (2018)
A hilarious collection inspired by a former Saturday Night Live writer's real experiences in Hollywood, chronicling the absurdity of fame and the humanity of failure in a world dominated by social media influencers and reality TV stars.

Simon Rich is "one of the funniest writers in America" ( Daily Beast ) -- a humorist who draws comparisons to Douglas Adams (New York Times Book Review), James Thurber, and P.G. Wodehouse (The Guardian). With Hits and Misses, he's back with a hilarious new collection of stories about dreaming big and falling flat, about ordinary people desperate for stardom and the stars who are bored by having it all.

Inspired by Rich's real experiences in Hollywood, Hits and Misses chronicles all the absurdity of fame and success alongside the heartbreaking humanity of failure. From a bitter tell-all by the horse Paul Revere rode to greatness to a gushing magazine profile of everyone's favorite World War II dictator, these stories roam across time and space to skewer our obsession with making it big -- from the days of ancient Babylon to the age of TMZ.

242 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 24, 2018

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About the author

Simon Rich

23 books819 followers
Simon Rich (born 1984) is an American humorist whose first book, Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations, was published by Random House in April 2007.

Rich is an alumnus of The Dalton School and a former president of The Harvard Lampoon, and the son of The New York Times editorialist Frank Rich. He received a two book contract from Random House prior to his graduation from Harvard University in 2007.

His first book, Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations, has been described as a collection of "giddy what-if scenarios". Excerpts of the book were printed in The New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" column. His second book, Free Range Chickens, was published in 2008. His first novel, Elliot Allagash was released in May of 2010, followed by What in God’s Name and most recently, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, a collection of short stories about love.

He is currently a writer for Saturday Night Live.

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5 stars
714 (27%)
4 stars
1,039 (40%)
3 stars
665 (25%)
2 stars
136 (5%)
1 star
41 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 336 reviews
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
490 reviews596 followers
October 24, 2018
I am very much a fan of the comedy stylings of Mr Simon Rich, a former Saturday Night Live writer and a New Yorker contributor. But as the title implies, his latest collection is a mixed bag. Most of these madcap tales look at fame and ambition in some kind of way. A few of them made me laugh out loud. The Baby tells of a struggling novelist who becomes enormously jealous of his unborn child's literary talents (the fetus's manuscript even has an advance blurb from George Saunders). In Hands, one monk decides to prove that he is the most committed member of his strict order by cutting off his own arms. Other tales, like Tom Hanks Stories and Physicians' Lounge April 1st, felt quite throwaway and forgettable.

If you're a newcomer to this gifted humorist, I would direct you instead towards the magnificent Spoiled Brats. Hits and Misses certainly has its moments, but Rich can do better.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,849 reviews520 followers
September 5, 2018
"All he liked to do was sit around in his underwear, making up jokes and then laughing at them." That pretty much describes the self referential author of these short stories. Unfortunately, I wasn't laughing along with him. Some of the more satirical stories might have made amusing New Yorker cartoons and some of the others might have been ok as part of a set in a comedy club. But they didn't work for me at all as short stories. Each consists of one joke, drawn out. What if your future career could be predicted from a sonogram, and an author found himself competing with the novel his fetal son was typing while in the uterus? What if Paul Revere's horse wanted equal credit for the ride? What if death were an actor? The gofer for a studio exec tries to talk the exec into heaven. I just didn't find any of this funny. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Shawn.
251 reviews42 followers
July 22, 2018
Appropriately titled, I suppose, although I think “Near Hits & Unfortunate Misses” is more accurate. I’d certainly consider myself a fan — absolutely loved his “Last Girlfriend” and “Spoiled Brats”. They were so good, in fact, that the mere memory of them renders this latest attempt forgivable. A gifted storyteller, very funny. You wouldn’t, however, know it from this. Rather than waste time on this one, read or reread the others.
Profile Image for Molly.
1,202 reviews52 followers
June 7, 2018
I always forget just how much I like Simon Rich until I inevitably stumble across one of his new books somewhere. The short stories here are delightful, whether they are simple silliness or biting satire, and I laughed out loud more than once. The GQ profile of Adolf Hitler is a great send-up of certain publications' *cough* New York Times * cough* recent attempts to make white nationalists somehow more palatable with sympathetic profiles.

"Relapse" is perhaps one of the best and most horrifying commentaries on the ways in which people give up art as they get older and life gets in the way. I don't want to say much else about it, because it's 100% worth reading this entire book to experience just this one gut-punch of a story.

I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for britt_brooke.
1,288 reviews96 followers
June 12, 2018
Simon Rich had me cackling out loud right away. These stories are so irreverent and fun with characters ranging from a genius in utero infant to Paul Revere’s horse to Adolf Hitler. Some are better than others, as the title implies, but all are entertaining.

Thank you for the ARC, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Cris.
600 reviews21 followers
May 24, 2019
Funny book with moments of adorable. Recommended by Ti❤️. My favorites were the Birthday, Paul Revere and the ghost.
9 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2019
The title of this book caught my eye as I was searching through the comedy section of books in my English class a month ago. It’s a bit funny to me because “hit or miss” is a lyric to a popular song that I find hilarious, so I thought I’d give this book a try. The unique title along with the cover with rubber ducks on it made me interested. I wanted to know what the ducks were all about and what “hits and misses” had to do with comedy. But what did I know? I had never read a comedy book before!

Hits and Misses by Simon Rich is a collection of short, funny stories mostly based on hopeful people with dreams of becoming successful in life. Many of the stories include normal characters and motives, but very unrealistic circumstances, like babies becoming writers in the womb or the grim reaper getting persuaded into an acting gig. Almost all of the stories, although humorous, have certain meanings and messages behind them. Many of them are important and relevant in society today, like the role of social media in our lives and the reality of the work world. It’s an extremely interesting read, as the stories tap into the reality of the world while also creating a completely unrealistic and humorous scenario.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the subtle ways that the author made it funny. How the short stories seemed so normal, yet completely absurd, was intriguing and hilarious at the same time. I especially liked how even the stupidest and lighthearted ones, like a letter from the point of view of Paul Revere’s horse, took dark turns into the reality of our society. Small elements in the stories, like a monk flicking his wrist like the stereotypical teenage girl in the 21st century, made a big impact in the hilarity of it. I enjoyed that part very much, by the way.

What I didn’t like about this book was the fact that at most times, the short stories were hard to relate to. Although I did find some parts funny and relatable, most of the stories had to do with the work world and finding jobs and careers. I, being a sophomore in high school, couldn’t fully understand this aspect or relate to it. This made it hard to find some parts funny.

Overall, my feelings on this book are mixed. When I found a short story that I enjoyed, I REALLY enjoyed it, but a lot of the time, I was bored. I think this is a great book for someone who has been through the struggle of finding a career and pursuing their dreams. They’d definitely have a lot to relate to in this book, and they’d find it hilarious. However, with this being the first comedy book I’ve ever read, I think it was a fairly good one.
59 reviews5 followers
September 27, 2018
The first story, The Baby, is pure genius. I’ve never read anything like it and LOL’d repeatedly in public throughout. Also genius was Birthday Party and the Foosball Championship of the Whole Entire Universe. Those three of the first four stories were so brilliant and crisp that I was already recommending the book to friends and relations; a decision I soon regretted when, like a joke made by his own self-mocking Great Jester character, things slipped rapidly and definitively into a quagmire of poop jokes and uncomfortable footwork, buoyed up by the repetitive formula of the big twisty ending to each story. Maybe if Rich could have continued to keep his sardonic, smart and creative eye on more life truths instead of holding an obsessive hyper-focus on career success as a writer, we’d get more golden pieces like those first ones. But those, whew, man! I’m doling out three stars here; one for each of those stories. And the fact his voice is so solid. Yeah, OK, f-it: get the book just to read those three, and don’t bother with the rest and it will be time and cash well spent.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
August 23, 2018
This was the most delightful and hilarious book I've read in a long time. Some of the essays are also very clever social commentary. I read several of these essays several times.

(there was one essay I did not like--the profile of hitler. I get what he was trying to do, but it fell flat and was just gross, but the others were so good that it still gets 5 stars)
Profile Image for Michael.
25 reviews1 follower
October 21, 2018
While there are some great portions within this story collection, I found the breadth of voices to be limited. Some good absurdist farce.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
Author 57 books567 followers
December 17, 2018
More misses than hits sadly. I love Simon Rich and a couple of stories were at his usual standard: The Baby in which a writer becomes jealous of his unborn child who has written and published a book (blurbed by George Saunders) in utero and Hands in which a monk wants to cut off both his hands to prove his devotion. Those two stories are pure Rich gold, the rest not so much.
Profile Image for MC.
161 reviews6 followers
September 18, 2018
Wildly irreverent and fun, this collection of humorous short stories had me chuckling and laughing out loud. The stories focus on the concepts of fame and fortune especially those who get to enjoy it, imagine they have it or wish they did.

A few of my favorite stories include “Adolf Hitler: The GQ Profile” which imagines a GQ-styled interview with the genocidal maniac, “Hands” about a monk who will do almost anything to out-do the piety of his fellow monks and “Stage 13” where the angry ghost of a dead starlet prevents a film production crew from finishing their movie.
Profile Image for Linds.
94 reviews10 followers
September 18, 2018
I hadn’t read any Simon Rich since Ant Farm & Free Range Chickens, so was excited to see this. I liked that while this is still a collection of funny short stories, a number of them also have pretty poignant endings. I don’t think anything will be as funny to me as Ant Farm the first time I read it, but this still had some laughs out loud moments.
Profile Image for Zara.
610 reviews35 followers
December 25, 2018
Hot take? Rich is a misogynist. He can be funny & clever (yikes, what does that say about me?), but all of his female characters are whiny, shallow, ball-busting, and dumb. I found the stories amusing but am kind of disgusted with myself afterwards.
Profile Image for Tyler Jones.
1,557 reviews74 followers
January 20, 2019
While there is a certain, shall we say, lack of thematic and stylistic breadth in these stories, they are on the whole quite funny to very funny. Reading Simon Rich is like what reading Woody Allen used to be like before you found out he was such a creep.
Profile Image for Till Raether.
215 reviews136 followers
August 10, 2021
I liked the one about the monks drinking urine; did not like the Polish doctor speaking cartoonishly poor English for no reason.
143 reviews3 followers
June 4, 2021
Sometimes social media influence leads you to fun things, I have learned. This book came into our house because my 17 year old daughter heard about it from some social media 'celebrity', and I am always supportive of her developing her funny bone. This was a delicious palate-cleanser, while I am in the middle of yet another strange novel (My Year Abroad) and was a delight at the end of a busy week of work, in the middle of an exhausting stay-home order in Ontario.
The short stories included some live-action from the perspective of foosball players (fooze-ball, not football); an article interviewing a current Hitler; how to get into heaven; and many stories about how to remain creative in current society from wild perspectives.
Definitely creative, often odd, sometimes cringey...this book is not for you if you are looking for something literal. But, I like quirky and weird, and Simon Rich may be those things.

Profile Image for Ray Nessly.
356 reviews23 followers
January 31, 2019
This is the third collection of his I've read, his latest. I'll keep trying because when Rich is good, he's very very good.
I loved "The Baby" and "Relapse". These two revisit a common Rich theme, dashing the dreams of writers and artists. Also loved "Adolf Hitler: The GQ Profile": Satire at its bravest, most audacious, best. I totally get however why others might be offended by it.
I liked "Hands", "New Client" and "Any Person, Living or Dead." The rest (except for the last four) were okay, sometimes fouled by weak endings or what have you, but were amusing, just nothing special.
The last four stories however, I thought were very weak.
It's interesting to read other reviews, and see how other folks' lists of hits and misses compare with yours. Humor is like that. "Your mileage may vary."
Consensus here, though, seems to be that "The Baby" is a big hit.
74 reviews
December 26, 2018
Fekk denne til jul, og tenkte egentlig å berre lese ein, kanskje to av historiene til å begynne med. Endte med å lese heile greia på ein dag. Det er den morsommaste boka eg har lest. The Foosball Championship of the Whole Entire Universe, Adolf Hitler: The GQ Profile, Hands og Oatsy er mine favoritter men så godt som alle har to-tre knallbra linjer. Upward Mobility er også veldig bra når eg tenker meg om. Egentlig The Baby òg. Simon Rich er eit geni.

Fav. linjer: «The script is no longer racist».
«Hitler has commited genocide against his insecurites. He’s cremated his fears and gassed his fears». «Heyo»
Profile Image for Jonathan K (Max Outlier).
615 reviews120 followers
June 9, 2019
Known in the world of TV and film, Simon Rich is a true gem, and it s no wonder he's been involved with the likes of SNL and others. Creative, zany and poignant, his stories are driven by his experiences in Entertainment, while some are biblical with a dash of film. Diverse in nature, some are laugh out loud while others are 'misses' much as the title says. Out of the gate, the first one was my favorite of all and any author or wannabe like myself, will surely agree. Very talented guy with great stories to tell!
Profile Image for Kristen.
545 reviews33 followers
June 6, 2021
I picked this up from the library after enjoying Rich's TV show Miracle Workers. Like Miracle Workers, Hits and Misses is good but not great: zippy, amusing, quirky, but lacking a bit in depth. I thought the best stories were the longest ones, so maybe I would enjoy Rich's novel-length books more. My favorite story here was "Hands," about a 4th Century Christian monk who learns the true meaning of Christ-like behavior and employs dialogue like: "I'm just saying, like, if my dad was a famous god and my mom was a respected virgin and I was showered with frankincense, like, literally from birth, maybe I could start a religion too."
Profile Image for Mike.
75 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2019
I love Simon Rich. This one was fun because he moved into some new territories than his previous work. Rather than relationships and contemporary issues, he played even more with genre and stretched himself a little.
Profile Image for Snem.
807 reviews8 followers
July 30, 2019
Ever read a book and you’re immediately mad because you wish you wrote it? This book is so good, so so so good. The way Simon Rich’s mind works is simply brilliant. This collection is creative, smart, unique, funny and quirky.

This might not be for a wide variety of readers. I can imagine a lot of people saying “I don’t get it.”

For readers who enjoy Aimee Bender books I definitely recommend this. I am going to pick of all his books I hope he never stops writing.
7 reviews
March 2, 2022
This book originally stood out to me because I have never read a collection of comedic stories before I said why not. I usually subconsciously choose nonfiction books because I guess they give me the knowledge that I am interested in, but surprisingly I really got interested in this book. Each story seemed different than the rest and that is what kept me interested because I never got bored with a story since they were so short.
The collection of stories begins with a story about a struggling writer who is expecting a baby and he needs to complete his book about General Custer before the baby arrives because the baby’s room will be his current writing room. Little did he know, his unborn son is somehow already writing about General Custer in the womb. This angers the man to the point that he is dedicating 100% of his time on the book, but in the end, it did not matter because his son exits the womb with a finished copy of his book. The man learns to accept the little man into his family after the baby makes his final cut in the book. Another story is about Paul Revere’s horse and how he gets no credit even though he rode Paul Revere there. The horse, Oatsy, grows jealous of Paul and ends up taking his girl. In this collection of stories, one story stood out as the most creative. This story was about foosball players and what their everyday lives consist of like they are real professional soccer players. It talks about the hardships of playing for their team coach and how many times they get injured because of their coach. Their coach just so happens to be the younger brother to the other head coach and being a younger brother comes with something that will prepare you for the real world; losing a lot. He loses almost every single time and to him, it is just a very competitive unfair game with his brother, but to the players, it is their life and his coaching is ruining their careers. Eventually, the younger brother won a game after their mother and grandmother told the older brother to lose on purpose because they couldn't stand the headache. It is a perspective that is unique and before reading this I would not have thought of thinking about it. One of the more serious stories, hands, talks about how a monk wants to cut off his hands so that temptation is no longer an option. This monk is very devoted, some may argue the most devoted, who will stop at nothing to have his name mentioned with the best of all time. His plan is in motion until a caravan approaches and he finds out that it is a girl's 18th birthday and for her birthday, she wants to see where Jesus was resurrected from. Fabiola is the girl's name and she wants the dedicated monk and another monk that is seen as fake Mordecai to show her to Jesus’s resurrection site. Mordecai is seen as desperate and is disliked by the monk whose whole identity is being the best monk. Fabiola wants to bring the dedicate monk to a concert, but they end up getting into a disagreement where they never see each other again. The two monks end up meeting each other again and Morediaci gets convinced that Fabiola thought he was “the man”. This strengthens the bond between the two and the monk realizes that he can use his hands for good like helping others instead of just worrying about himself. Another story teases about how celebrities can just act like normal people and they will be treated like they are so down to earth. In this case, Tom Hanks is the celebrity getting teased. Eventually, a quote from a fan says, “You don't have to believe me. But I swear to Hanks I'm telling you the truth.” Another clever story is about a dinosaur whose career is ruined about political correctness and being bigotted towards humans. One of the last stories is one about a movie director who is getting a bad report by a critic and it is keeping him up all night and he hates him. He decides that the best way to get him back is to put a bomb in a chest and force the critic to make his own movie and deal with the consequences. This ends up blowing up in the movie director’s face after the critic makes a move just talking about how there's a bomb in his chest and it becomes one of the best movies of the decade. Just the type of crude humor that occurs throughout all the stories.
The thing that worked in this book is the change of plots and change of scenery. This made the book feel fresh every 30 pages or so and that kept my interest in the book high. The book also puts known characters in interesting situations. Before this book, I would never have thought I would be reading about Hitler and his preference of french fries or Death himself starting a talent career. A lot of stories are bizarre and that is good.
Everyone's type of humor is different, so not every person will like every story and the good thing about that is that there are so many stories that even if you are picky you are still bound to like a story or two. Humor can be hit or miss depending on your sense of humor and that is not going to be an author’s fault it is just the genre’s fault. I guess one could say that another negative is that there is not a solid plot, but that is kind of the point of a collection of stories.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Crowei.
150 reviews5 followers
April 11, 2020
This book was certainly all over the place, kinda like Hollywood, which I guess is what Mr Rich wanted to portray. And just like Hollywood, this ill fitting, crazy, collection of stories work to make something that is almost... beautiful
Profile Image for Lauren LoGiudice.
Author 1 book34 followers
March 25, 2021
Clever as Simon Rich can not help being.

It's nice to track his work over the years. You get hints about how life may or may not have shaped him and the experiences he's had along the way. He seems to have an awareness of the privileges he's had and the absurdities that lie beneath.
6 reviews
July 26, 2022
Never have I laughed so hard while reading this book. Simon is a former writer for SNL. He actually wrote skits with John Mulaney, who is also a former writer for the show. So, if you like that kind of comedy, then this book will not disappoint.
Profile Image for lp.
358 reviews65 followers
July 6, 2018
Just as funny as I hoped it would be, but also much wiser. These essays are tiny lil bursts of very weird hilarity. Treat after treat after treat! Nobody writes quite like Simon Rich. Love it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 336 reviews

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