Sorry Please Thank You: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries)

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The other day I read in the paper that a new call center opens once every three weeks. Workers follow the work, and the work is here. All of us ready to feel, to suffer. The body is going into the ground now. The crying is getting more serious. Here it comes. I am feeling that feeling. The one that these people get a lot, near the end of a funeral service. These sad and pretty people.

‘Sorry Please Thank You,’ by Charles Yu

Different operators have different ways to describe it. For me, it feels something like a huge boot. Huge, like it fills up the whole sky, the whole galaxy, all of space. Some kind of infinite foot. The infinite foot is stepping on my chest. The funeral ends, and the foot is still on me, and it is hard to breathe. People are getting into black town cars. I also appear to have a town car. I get in. The foot, the foot. So heavy. Here we go, yes, this is familiar, the foot, yes, the foot. More like pressure. Deepak, who used to be in the next cubicle, once told me that this feeling I call the infinite foot—to him it felt more like a knee—is actually the American experience of the Christian God.

The Judeo-Christian God. He just shook his head at me. Deepak was the smartest guy in our cube-cluster, as he would kindly remind me several times a day. Death of a sibling is twelve fifty.

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Parents are two thousand apiece, but depending on the situation people will pay all kinds of money, for all kinds of reasons, for bad reasons, for no reason at all. The company started off in run-of-the-mill corporate services, basic stuff: ethical qualm transference, plausible deniability.

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In those early days, this place was known as Conscience Incorporated. The company had cornered the early market in guilt. Then the technology improved. Some genius in Delhi had figured out a transfer protocol to standardize and packetize all different kinds of experiences. Overnight, everything changed. An industry was born. The business of bad feeling. For the right price, almost any part of life could be avoided.

Not much, really, a hot and crowded little room, a bunch of stools in front of a greasy counter. I come here mostly for the small television, up on a shelf, above the cash register. They have a satellite feed. It shows a rich executive-looking type sitting and rubbing his temples, making the universal television face for I Am an Executive in a Highly Stressful Situation.

There are wavy lines on either side of his temples to indicate that the Executive is really stressed! Then he places a call to his broker and in the next scene, the Executive is lying on a beach, drinking golden beer from a bottle and looking at the bluest ocean I have ever seen.

Next to me is a woman and her daughter. The girl, maybe four or five, is scooping rice and peas into her mouth a little at a time. She is watching the commercial in silence. When she sees the blue water, she turns to her mother and asks her, softly, what the blue liquid is. I am thinking about how sad it is that she has never seen water that color in real life until I realize that I am thirty-nine years old and hey, you know what?

Neither have I. And then the commercial ends with one of our slogans. Thank You is a more emotionally removed set of stories focussed on adding filters over life, to lessen the impact of some of its more challenging and horrific aspects, and to continue to exist in safe, albeit muted, ways. It is the weakest section of this book, as it repeats, in less interesting ways, some of the themes presented in the first two segments. This story works as an amusing companion piece to the first story in the collection, but treads too much of the same water to be effective on its own, feeling more like a straight-up comedy piece than any other story in the book.

It feels almost like an umbrella piece under which to collect all others. Interesting, but certainly the weakest link in an otherwise engaging collection.

Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

He frequently employs literary paradoxes, playing words and meanings off one another in rhythmic ways that, more often than not, add a great deal of comedy to even the more emotionally dour stories. That is, perhaps, my only true complaint with the collection—that some of the stories feel less developed than others, which is more apparent when placed one after the other, when their sometimes obvious similarities are made visible. Charles Yu is a little bit Philip K. Dick crossed with Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut. Jun 26, Louise rated it liked it Shelves: short-stories.

Thank you. They say that if you knew the words of these three phrases in any language, you can probably get by pretty well. Maybe if you can understand all the stories in here, you'll be able to get by in life? Overall, I found it to be like a less-successful Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang which you should read if you haven't already. Each of the stories in here is a little bizarre in the way Twilight Zone episodes are bizarre. Unfortunately, the stories were hit o Sorry.

Unfortunately, the stories were hit or miss. The ones I liked: - Standard Loneliness Package: as a programmer, I can relate to someone who "rents out their mind" for work. While programmers rent out their thinking brain space, the people in this story rent out their feeling brain space. The ending was touching. It was sad, but hopeful. This is the story about him. I didn't like the other stories as much because they seemed trite or trying too hard.

Designer Emotion was heavy handed and didn't really need to be written. Inventory was one I "didn't get. Troubleshooting was only okay. Mar 16, Kaitlyn rated it liked it Shelves: literary , library. I'm still not sure how I feel about this collection, as a whole. If you've read Yu's novel, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe , what he serves up here won't surprise: surreal, experimental, with pop-culture and scifi influences.

And yet. I feel like, in writing the first story "Standard Loneliness Package," Yu has said pretty much everything, and the rest of the I'm still not sure how I feel about this collection, as a whole.

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I feel like, in writing the first story "Standard Loneliness Package," Yu has said pretty much everything, and the rest of the book just puts it a different way. I might also be a little jaded because one of the stories has been done more effectively by John Scalzi in Redshirts : "Yeoman. Jul 13, Ben Babcock rated it it was ok Shelves: anthologies , science-fiction , read , own , not-my-cup-of-tea. For one thing, as I mention at the top of this review, his characters are often these sad-sack men who are stuck in dead-end jobs or lives and chasing some kind of love interest. I like the conceits there, the way Yu uses the trope of self-aware game characters.

So overall … disappointed, for suresies. This is not a book I can recommend. Sorry, please, thank you, you're welcome - words to live by. This was a good is made up of some stories that were just okay, most that were good and two that were great. This sci-fi collection was easy to get into and highly readable. Jul 25, Liviania rated it really liked it. Charles Yu has been making a big splash. Then he received the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award.

He comfortably straddles science fiction and liter Charles Yu has been making a big splash. He comfortably straddles science fiction and literary fiction.

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It's a clever idea, but the division doesn't feel organic. Many of the stories in different sections are preoccupied with the same themes. Yu continually returns to pondering the authenticity of relationships and satisfaction or dissatisfaction with one's self. But here's the really important thing about Yu: he's fiercely funny. Sometimes he goes overboard with the meta or postmodern formatting.

It works when there's really something to think about when you untangle what he's saying. Other times it's just flash for no good reason. Maybe I just really didn't like "Human for Beginners. But the high points shine brightly and come fairly frequently. On the other hand, people in dire straights mortgage their lives and other people rent it for escape. The protagonist attempts to romance coworker Kirthi, a heartbreak specialist. In this story, Yu pulls off the darker side of human emotion beautifully. But this time they work in a WalMart expy and are trying to deal with a zombie roaming the store.

The Please section is the longest and weakest. It shows off Yu's command of language and his playful universes. Plus, it ends with quite the hook. Why do we always have to talk everything to death? You don't think maybe this is something we need to discuss? Thank You contains "Yeoman" as well as the best story in the collection "Designer Emotion When a man receives a promotion to crew's yeoman, he realize it means he's going to die. That's not an option, considering he has a baby on the way. It's a hilarious send up of science fiction tropes and the yeoman's wife is priceless.

The CEO is cocky and brash and should probably have an intern edit his speech, but he does know what the shareholders are really after. It's crazy yet plausible and funny in all the worst ways. It has his long, propulsive paragraphs were the narrator babbles, searching to make sense of something. It's preoccupied with human interaction. There's the strange bitterness about love. It may not be a highlight of the anthology, but it's a fitting end.

Although if you have no stomach for postmodernism, you might stay away. Yu's work in this collection will further his standing with both the literary and sci-fi crowds. Six standouts in a collection of thirteen stories isn't bad at all. Nov 23, Suad Shamma rated it it was amazing Shelves: own , , favourites. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and devoured it within hours of starting! I had actually picked this up whilst reading Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy, since I found myself in a slump and needed a break from the series, which seemed to be dragging.

Boy, am I glad I did! This was exactly what I needed at the time. A series of short stories that are completely bizarre at times, but always entertaining. I can't even begin to choose a favourite, as they all have a little something specia I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and devoured it within hours of starting!

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I can't even begin to choose a favourite, as they all have a little something special in them. Each story is so different from the one preceding it, showcasing the superb writing skills of Charles Yu. This was the first book I ever read for him, and when I picked it up at the bookstore, I did so very randomly based only on its title. In fact, I remember refusing to read what it's about, because I wanted to be surprised. So I actually had no idea that it was a book of short stories at all when I first bought it. He has such a creative mind that I can't help but be jealous.

Every story I read I would think "I wish I had come up with that", so simple, yet so good. Some stories were ridiculous, but hilarious. This book opens with "Standard Loneliness Package", which describes an Indian employee's experience working at a company that outsources emotions. Any bad experience you want to avoid, you can have a person sit in on it for a certain fee, so you can skip all the negative emotions that come with it.

It could be anything, ranging from a trip to the dentist to a funeral and worst of all, heartbreak. A very profound story with a very profound message, this was a great opening tale. Another story that stood out for me was "Note to Self", which was quite literally a note to different versions of oneself in different realities or universes. This was a highly entertaining story that had me laughing to myself. Then there's "Hero Absorbs Major Damage" which tells the story of characters in a video game that are led by a hero into different battles that they try to win.

At the beginning, it isn't clear that this is a video game, so you get to know these characters and think of them as real people fighting to survive. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the hero and the game player at the end. That is all you need to know. Finally, my favourite story was probably "Adult Contemporary". This is a story about a man that is literally buying a different lifestyle, one in which his life is being narrated. Very clever story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys wit and humour all rolled into one, and who appreciates creativity and doesn't necessarily need the story to have a "point".

Because a lot of these stories don't. They just simply are. Aug 22, Ryandake rated it really liked it. Out There on the Edge is a very very good place to be: reaching to that space is stretching, is moving arthritic thought processes, is growth, and a number of the stories in this book will encourage you, like a really good yoga teacher, on that path. View 1 comment. Mar 27, samkrunch rated it really liked it. So, I liked this more than How to Live Safely. My favorites -- Warning! There are possible spoilers ahead.

Standard Loneliness Package: A company has developed a technology for transferring emotional experiences.. It was sorta funny and sad. Yeah … Inventory: This wasn't really a story. It reminded me of some of my old depressing blog posts from a bygone era, but I guess I liked that -- incoherent thoughts. It's clearly the work of a scifi geek who knows how to twist pop culture tropes into melancholy meditations on the nature of consciousness. How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe is one of the trippiest and most thoughtful novels I've read all year, one that begs for a single sit-down experience even if you're left with a major head rush after the fact for having gulped down so many ideas in a solitary swoop.

Yu's literary pyrotechnics come in a marvelously entertaining and accessible package, featuring a reluctant, time machine-operating hero on a continual quest to discover what really happened to his missing father, a mysterious book possibly answering all, and a computer with the most idiosyncratic personality since HAL or Deep Thought. Like the work of Richard Powers. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe fuses the scientific and the emotional in ways that bring about something new.

It is a wonderfully stunning, brilliant work of science fiction that goes to the heart of self-realization, happiness and connections. Yu has accomplished something remarkable in this book, blending science fiction universes with his own, alternative self's life, in a way, breaking past the bonds of the page and bringing the reader right into the action. Simply, this is one of the absolute best time travel stories. Wells or the Doctor Who television series.


There are times when he starts off a paragraph about chronodiegetics that just sounds like pseudo-scientific gibberish meant to fill in some space. That happened more than once for me. There are so many sections here and there that I found myself wanting to share with somebody: Here—read this paragraph! Look at this sentence! Ok, now check this out! A fascinating, philosophical and disorienting thriller about life and the context that gives it meaning.

If I could go back in time and read it earlier, I would. This book is awesome. Charles Yu has built a strange, beautiful, intricate machine, with a pulse that carries as much blood as it does electricity. Bends time, mind, and genre.