I just read Simon Rich's new book, Free Range Chickens. It's a collection of short humor pieces, like his previous book, Ant Farm, which was a paperback. This one is hardcover. I'm slightly torn about this book. Because if I didn't like it, there's all sorts of things I could say about it, like, it's hardly a book. It's 129 pages, and a bunch of those pages are blank, and a lot of the ones that aren't blank are half-blank, and even the ones that aren't blank at all only have a few words on them, because there's dialogue and skipped lines and, I don't know, there's probably like eight thousand words in the whole book. But here's the problem: it's funny. His last book was funny, and this one is funny. There is a lot of smart, funny stuff in the book. It took me twenty minutes to read it, but I enjoyed those twenty minutes. I laughed out loud a couple of times. I am alone in my bedroom, and I laughed out loud a couple of times. I don't laugh out loud when I'm alone in my bedroom very often, except sometimes when I look at how poorly I made my bed. So I can't get myself terribly worked up over the injustice of Simon Rich getting a book published that's only about eight thousand words long. Because it's funny, and smart, and he executes very well on the form -- they're all short pieces that throw a premise out there and very quickly illustrate the funny and then they're over. Consistently very good. Ironically -- since he's a writer for Saturday Night Live -- most of these pieces would make great Saturday Night Live sketches, except very little on Saturday Night Live is funny. But most of these pieces, executed pretty much as they are on paper here, with Chris Parnell (or, if limited to cast members, um, Jason Sudeikis I guess) playing most of the adult parts and, I don't know, Andy Samberg playing most of the kid parts, would be funny brought to life. I would give Simon Rich a sketch show on Comedy Central and he could probably do something cool with it. But even though I mean that, I feel like I shouldn't admit it, because the book is so short, and easy, and weightless. There are no greater points being made, there is no explanation of the human condition. It's all just gentle and funny. I heard a podcast interview with Simon Rich and, again, I kind of wanted to hate him, or at least feel like something about his last book and this book wasn't deserved, because they're short and he's young and his father is Frank Rich. But he seemed appropriately gracious and normal and smart and funny in the interview. So I don't hate him. I like his writing. It's a good read. You can read it in the bookstore, while the person you're with goes to the bathroom (assuming probably #2 if you want to get through the whole book, because you won't quite make it if it's just #1) but still, it's funny, and I can't bring myself to feel like it's unjustified or anything that the book exists.