Charles Yu’s characters are not very happy.
I wasn’t enthusiastic reading Sorry Please Thank You: Stories, for I wasn’t much of a fan of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Nevertheless, I’d acquired this collection prior to reading that novel, from a library sale, so I wanted to give Yu a second chance. I don’t think there will be a third.
The stories in here aren’t particularly bad. They just don’t appeal to me. 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. It’s … emotionally flaccid. Moreover, as much as I like meta-fiction and self-insert stuff, it shows up again and again here, and I’m just kind of over it now. Sure, some of the stories and narrative devices here are fun and fresh the way Yu uses them … but there is not a single story in this collection that made me go, “Whoa.”
Probably the only story that comes close is “Hero Absorbs Major Damage”. I like the conceits there, the way Yu uses the trope of self-aware game characters. It’s pretty fun (though it still hews too closely to some of the issues I identified above). Even that story, though, didn’t make me go “whoa”.
So overall … disappointed, for suresies. This is not a book I can recommend. It’s not something I’m telling you to avoid either, of course. But there’s just better ways for me to spend my afternoon than reading short story collections that don’t speak to me.