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It is not often you get the opportunity to join a cult that does not require you to hand over all of your money but that is what Danny Wallace is offering people and in fact all you actually have to do is agree to do a good deed for someone every Friday, once a member, Friday becomes Good Friday as it is the day that you will carry out your deed. There is no great long initiation process and no need to learn countless mantras or religious dogma, all you need to join is send Danny a passport photo of yourself, you may even include a small item like the menu for your favourite Indian restaurant like Joinne Jonesy the first one to join the cult did but this is purely optional and was in fact something unique to Jonesy. Mind you in those days you were not joining a cult rather it was a collective.
For those who have never heard of Danny Wallace let me explain and for those who are thinking that the name is vaguely familiar this may be because he is the former flatmate of the comic Dave Gorman who wrote a book about his own search around the world for people who share the name Dave Gorman and Wallace was co-author of this book. Wallace is a journalist and comedy writer who lives in the east end of London and is the sort of character who would write the amusing articles in men magazines like Arena and FHM.
Join Me is a very funny account of the events that followed Wallace attending the funeral of his great uncle Gallus Breitenmoser who was from the Swiss side of the family (in case you are not up to date on your Swiss surnames). Gallus was a farmer and lived in a small Swiss village all of his life. After the funeral Wallace is invited to take one item from the house as a keepsake and decides to take his pipe as a gift for his girlfriend Hanne, at the same time he also learns that Gallus had tried to start up a commune in his village when he was a young man however the plan floundered when he only attracted three members. Returning to London and at a loose end and being the sort of bloke who enjoys rather pointless challenges he decides to honour the memory of Gallus by getting 100 people to join him in a collective. He then posts a simple advert in Loot the free London advertising paper that simply says JOIN ME and asks people to send a passport photo to his home address.
What follows is an amusing well written book that just flows effortlessly along as Wallace begins to decide exactly what Join Me should actually mean and the book also charts the impact it has on his own life, those close to him and also those that respond to his request. The fact that the book is true and that the people featured including photos are real people certainly makes this an interesting read with some real laugh out loud moments in the book.
There is a lads feel to the comedy however I would not categorise this as a lads book merely it reflects the life of a mid twenties metro male living in London with too much time on his hands and an ability to use his knowledge of the media to his advantage. Certainly Wallace comes across as an easy going sort of guy who just happens to stumble into a number of amusing situations. He has quite a dry sense of humour and also can be quite literal at times in the way he delivers the funny moments in his book and I think that one of the reasons I liked this book so much is that his sense of humour very much mirrors my own.
This is more than just a funny read it is also quite an engrossing one, the style of writing makes use of short chapters which helps keep the pages turning and the text is punctuated with pictures and newspaper articles that help chart the progress of Join Me. As I got into the book I fund it very hard to put down as I had a thirst to find out whether he succeeds in his task and also to see how the number of other sub plots within the book such as a take over attempt of the collective and his relationship with Hanne (who he did not tell about his setting up of Join Me) turn out in the end.
This is certainly quite a light hearted read and ideal as a travel companion or a couple of days on the beach if you are off to grab some winter sun.
The book does explore a number of quite interesting themes. The way Join Me becomes an obsession for Wallace was very interesting and reminded me a little of the writing of Nick Hornby who charted his own obsession with Arsenal in Fever Pitch. It is also quite interesting to consider the fact that there were people initially prepared to join up based on a simple advert and the fact that there is a lot of people out there who are quite prepared to carry out good deeds but need that little push or a feeling that they are not alone for them to take the step and actually do something.
Certainly this book is well worth checking out and it does make an interesting read. My copy was obtained from readitswapit however the rrp is £6.99 for the paperback and the book is currently available at Amazon for £4.89 new and from £2.29 in the new and used section.
Published by Ebury Press the ISBN is 009189562
Wallace has written a number of other books including Random Acts of Kindness -365 Ways to make the World a better place which is a sort of follow up to this book as well as Yes Man which is my next planned read.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
If you want more information on Join Me check out www.joinme.info.