I often wish that I was born to rich Upper Eastsiders, attending boarding schools and fancy colleges, just to come back with a dream job handed to me and my life consisting of wondering how I can get a boyfriend and friends as my finances have already been figured out and are not anything to wonder about. If only. Well, that is basically what Simon Rich’s Spoiled Brats meditates on. Does it do a good job of doing that? Not really. It’s not a very good book.
The book is a collection of short stories about spoiled brats. Every one is different, too: there is a self-centered girl studying abroad in space, a smug and intelligent gorilla aspiring for greatness, two adult children contending with their ghost parents, a young man who is coping with the return of his great grandfather. Those are the types of absurd situations the book provides readers, all by-New-York, for-New-York stories that will likely make locals chuckle and go, “I so know about that.” while others roll their eyes and remember why they hate that city.
It’s supposed to be “funny” too. Is it? Sometimes. When it isn’t lost in itself. The first story about a gerbil family being killed off by a kindergarten class starts the book off on a great high that is quickly lost to over writing and Rich winking at himself in a mirror. There’s another great story about a genie with hearing issues—but that’s only four or five pages. Everything else is barely fun and very much, “Millennials! Rimshot.”
Here’s the thing that we discovered when chatting about it in Bük Kloob: this book isn’t for people our age but people who are 40+ and think millennials are the greatest butt of a joke. This would be cool if one of them wrote this book but one of us wrote the book. It’s like we were betrayed by some smug, rich kid trying to keep up his New Yorker cred. Actually, that’s exactly what happened.
The book is just frustrating. Everything about it: the reviews, the author photo, the book club guide—it’s all infuriating. This book sucks. You can like it, sure, but there’s a lot more at stake here than laughs. Just read Simon Rich’s Wikipedia page. Check your privilege.