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A few weeks ago I received an email from Danny Wallace sent to all his Joinees. It told me that I could buy a signed copy of "yes man" for a reduced price if I bought it now. I was thrilled and immediately decided that I would say YES to buying yes man.
This was just one simple yes and I was glad I decided to buy the book. I may well take a leaf from Danny's book and start saying yes more.
---------------------------------- A Brief History Of Danny ----------------------------------
Many of you may have heard of Dave Gorman. In fact many of you probably know at least one of the 52 that are out there. You see Dave started out by finding everyone with the same name as him. This turned into a decent book and an even better TV show done in a lecture style. It was very entertaining and I'd suggest you all watch it now.
Now that you're back from watching "the Dave Gorman collection" I can tell you that his flatmate was Danny Wallace who joined him on the adventure. Danny also helped produce the show. Dave went on to do a book on Googlewhacking while Danny did a book called "Join Me".
Join me was alright I suppose and mildly amusing. But it became rather repetitive and boring and I never finished reading it. He basically started a cult by accident. He put an advert in a paper "Join me, call ***********" which lead to him travelling the world to meet people who wanted to join him (despite not knowing what they were joining, neither did Danny).
One could perhaps see the chain of books as an autobiography of Dave and Danny's lives. For instance we see where Danny is with his (now ex) girlfriend Hanne and other friends we've met in other books.
Danny is also going to star in his own BBC 2 show "How To Start Your Own Country" soon. Details of this are being kept under wraps.
Danny's day job is as a radio producer for the BBC. His job is very casual and laid back working just a few days a week.
This book is the latest in the series of books about odd goings on in Danny's life.
---------------------------------- What Is This All About? ----------------------------------
Danny was getting bored with life, he was in a bit of a rut. He wasn't going out that much and was watching far
too much Trisha for his liking. But then one day, a chance encounter with a man on a bus prompted him to change everything. The man simply told him:
"Say yes more"
So Danny did. In fact, he said yes to every invitation and instruction. His life would be in the hands of everyone around him except for him. It started off as just a day, but then he continued it until the end of the year (from September).
This was not just a decision, it was a law. He created a yes manifesto which he must keep to. If he failed to say yes to every suggestion until the end of the year then his friend Ian could deal a punishment. Obviously there were clauses like nobody who knows what he's doing can trick him into saying yes to everything.
He ended up winning 25,000 and losing it just hours later. He went to Amsterdam, made it look like he didn't approve of his ex girlfriends new boyfriend. He also gave lots of money to charities who approached him and bought lots of Viagra thanks to junk email.
He manages to meet the worlds only hypnotic dog and get himself a nemesis (who keeps taunting Danny via email and post). Danny also gets some time on Richard and Judy (which I really wished I'd have seen)
The book is a fascinating insight to what happens if you say yes to everything. Amazingly well written and brilliantly presented.
The first thing you notice about a Gorman or Wallace book is the unique writing style they adopt. It's difficult to describe it, I often have difficulty in describing things like this.
His writing style is cheeky, witty and not to be taken too seriously. There are moments when you're unsure as to how serious Danny is being. Lots of sarcasm, good humour and interesting remarks. It's funny, charming and endearing.
The language used is vibrant and vocabulary is wide. It adds another dimension to the comedy of the book to be reading such descriptive phrases about mundane life. It's intelligent. He writes as if he's talking to you, it's personal and close.
Best of all are the jokes. This is the first book to make me laugh out loud. Granted, I very rarely read books and Googlewhack Adventure certainly came close. But Danny has the ability to use the medium well to give comical insight.
He can build up a joke across a paragraph or even pages then give you two or three words for the punch line. Once you get used to the style this begins to tire and you start to predict what will be coming. But it's funny nonetheless.
Danny also has the uncanny ability to set up jokes well in advanced and keep themes running throughout the book. Some parts of page one will come into play on page 200. Yet even if you've forgotten some of what you've read, he gives enough information to trigger a memory.
It's also dynamic. While it remains in essence a comedy, this also portrays some bad points. It takes us through some problems Danny faced and some emotional difficulty along the way. It still retains a light hearted mood but can remove us from the comedy for a few minutes.
The book fires up your imagination and you feel like you're there with Danny. You can imagine exactly what he's talking about and there are some "I know what you mean" moments.
-------------------------- The Bad Bits --------------------------
The only bad parts come from the almost recycling of jokes. He uses some mechanisms and even entire jokes several times throughout to generate comedy from what is essentially a biography.
The book also seems to tire a little towards the middle. Some of the events become similar to previous events and some are just plain boring to read about. While others recycle some of the comedy perhaps a little too far.
---------------------------- The Best Bits ----------------------------
There are two best bits to this book. The first is an entire chapter which (and I warn that some may consider this a spoiler but I don't) read quite simply:
19: In which the reader is required to read between the lines
I probably shouldn't talk about it. And I'm not sure I really want to, either. For now. Just for now. Sorry.
This entire chapter is very intelligent for obvious reasons (and in the context it is very funny) but also for reasons discovered in the final chapters. The significance of some of this book is not noted until the end.
The second best bit (which deserves equal honour to the first) is the ending. It's almost poetic. While I can't reveal if Danny succeeds or fails (in fact, it really doesn't matter as the book is more than about whether he wins the bet or not) I can reveal that the ending is superb. You're kept guessing as to what will happen right to the end. Then with a slight comical pause for the first epilogue, we're lead to a second epilogue. Here everything is tied up. We're told exactly how it ends. The final sentence is perhaps the most fitting.
But I urge you strongly not to skip to the end. For it makes no sense without the story and it'll spoil the whole thing. You feel happy though, that it's ended properly and that lots of the book then makes sense.
This book is utterly brilliant. One could almost say that it is fantabulous. There, I've said it. Yes man is fantabulous.
Danny Wallace manages to make you laugh, be entertained and enjoy a jolly good book. While it tended to drag a little towards the middle, the book was very readable.
I love Danny's style, the personal writing, the language, the punch lines. It's something that's unique to him and Dave Gorman which just has some sort of X factor which I can't fully explain.
The last chapters drag you in more deeply than the first. After I got halfway through the book I couldn't stop reading the rest. That's why I'm sat up at 2:30am just finished the book.
The life of Danny Wallace has certainly been an odd one. From going around meeting several Dave Gormans, to starting a cult and now saying yes to everything. But now I hear he's going to start his own country for a TV show on BBC 2! Fantabulous!
Sure, half of this book must be exaggerated or slightly made up. Sure, he knew he was going to write a book about it from the offset. But between Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman, my life has been enriched. I'm glad they've done their little adventures. I'm glad they've written about them.
This book is infinitely better than Join Me (That's not to say Join Me was that bad) and on par with Gorman's books. If you want something a bit different, very funny and a little odd to read then pick up this book today.
Don't miss his show Weds on BBC 2 (around 7pm I think) "How to create your own country".
Thanks For Reading. Dean.
------------------------- If you like this try: -------------------------
"Are You Dave Gorman" - Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace "The Dave Gorman Collection" - TV Show and Stage Show "Join Me" - Danny Wallace "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure" - Dave Gorman