Thursday, 28 July 2005

Thursday Book Review: Yes Man by Danny Wallace

Danny Wallace's life was in a rut. His girlfriend had left him and he was happy to spend his time in his flat, avoiding his friends, shunning human contact. Then, one day, a chance meeting with a mysterious enlightened teacher on a bus led to his decision to start saying "yes" to things. Not just to things he knew he should say "yes" to, but to everything. A skeptical friend was convinced that Danny would be unable to keep it up and that he would slip back to his negative ways, so a bet was made and he vowed to say "yes" to every opportunity that came his way for an entire year.

If you've read
Join Me, Wallace's previous book, or you are aware of his pivotal part in Dave Gorman's attempt to track down and meet 52 other Dave Gormans, this book will be familiar territory. Coming in the same genre of "boy projects" which inspired Tony Hawks' Fridge and Tennis books, this tome is essentially another similar escapade. However, like some of these other projects (Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure springs to mind), Danny's ostensibly simple search for a way to boost his positivity by saying "yes" to essentially trivial opportunities becomes, as time unfolds, more and more a story of someone looking for the right way to live his life.

Early on we are treated to Wallace innocently playing along to various internet email scams. While I don't believe for a moment that he genuinely believed that he wouldn't get ripped-off if he didn't tread carefully, it is also fun to follow his efforts to persuade a bogus Sultan's son to advance him the first million pounds so that the full amount could be claimed. And we never do find out whether the penis patches worked.

But later on, as Danny tries to keep his project on course, under pressure from a mysterious challenger, I found it impossible not to hope he would succeed.

There's no doubt that by saying "yes" when you previously would have said "no" can certainly open up opportunities that would otherwise be closed, but I am also bound to think that it is a lot easier to say "yes" when you are a successful freelance radio producer, working only 2 or 3 days a week, with a best-selling book behind you.

That said, this was a marvellous read and thoroughly recommended. And it has an ending which is sure to melt the hearts of all but most hardened cynic. I found myself cheering at the denoument - not something I find myself doing very often. The only real drawback was that I got so engrossed, I stayed up late reading and was late for work the next day. Thanks Danny - an entertaining and surprisingly thought-provoking read.

You can buy any of the books mentioned in this review by clicking the links.

1 comment:

Dawson... said...


I had to look that work up, so stop it... and I've no idea how to pronounce it either

As the ONLY person reading your blog I feel its your duty to use a language I understand.... or put a link to some dictionary site so I dont have to look it up in word.