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Travel writing sneaked up on me as I grew older. It began with Bill Bryson, and 'proper' travelling, but has recently moved into the realms of stupid quests. The first of these I read was 'Round Ireland with a Fridge' by Tony Hawks, after reading a great review on Ciao. I so much enjoyed it, I read his other books so quickly, I left myself without anything to read.
So where to go after reading about a man hitchhiking with a fridge round Ireland, beating the Moldovan football team at tennis, and having a hit record with Norman Wisdom in Albania? Someone suggested Dave Gorman, whose name I recognised from my brother-in-law telling me how great his BBC programme was. It turns out that the programme was actually based on this book, and I'm now sorry I missed it.
The Gorman Conquests* ----------------------------
In 2000, on Dave's birthday, he and his flatmate Danny Wallace went out and drank tequila, and ended up making a bet. Wallace bets Gorman that he will never meet anyone else with the same name, whilst Gorman reckons there must be 'loads' of other Dave Gormans. Ten minutes later they're in a taxi on the way to catch a train to East Fife.
The book follows their adventures around the globe, taking in most of England, as well as Israel, Germany, America, France and Italy. Will they find the requisite 54 Dave Gormen? Or will the strain be too much on their relationships with people not called Dave Gorman?
Is it any good? -----------------
Dave Gorman seems to be an excitable Peter Pan character whenever I've seen him doing stand-up, and this book does little to change that image of him. A whole book of Gorman might get irritating, but luckily, half of it is written by Wallace. The contrasting styles of writing, and getting to see the same events from two viewpoints is refreshing for what is essentially a travelogue
The pure ridiculousness of the journey also makes for more interesting reading that it may sound. The quest takes over Gorman's life, and he begins to do statistical analysis on all the Dave Gormans they meet, as well as cataloguing his adventures in hand decorated folders. Meanwhile Wallace is struggling to keep his Norwegian girlfriend happy, as he flits off round the world to all the places he's promised to take her and hasn't bothered to yet.
This is a fascinating insight into the male psyche; I just can't imagine two women being too stubborn to concede defeat, especially not if one was running out of money, and one had a boyfriend running out of patience. Neither Gorman nor Wallace will give in, both too stubborn to see the effect it is having on the rest of their lives.
More importantly than being psychologically interesting, it's also incredibly funny. Whilst neither is what I'd call the straight man, they both have very different senses of humour which compliment the other's perfectly. Gorman is childish and over excitable, whilst Wallace is more reserved and dry.
Some of the funniest moments in the book are when Gorman has dragged his flatmate to some remote area of the world, only to find the DG they are searching for isn't in, refuses to see them, or, worse still, isn't even in that country. The best example of this is when they travel to the south of France where Gorman knows an author lives, but only knows the name of the village. The villagers help them to find his house, only for the author to be back in London.
Gorman Wisdom* ---------------------
This is a most enjoyable read; it doesn't take very long to finish, and is a real page turner as you can't wait to see what they will get up to next. It's also nice to see they've included the photographs they took of each person they met, along with the numbers, which not only means you can see who they're talking about, but also proves they've done it, and that he really was as weirdly obsessed as he appears.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes reading comedy or travel books, especially if your name is Dave Gorman. The only trouble is, it makes you wonder how many people share your own name…
Also by the authors -------------------------
Dave Gorman - Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure Danny Wallace - Join Me Danny Wallace - Random Acts of Kindness