Yes Man

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Yes Man By (author) Danny WallaceI have to start by saying that I’m not altogether sure whether I enjoyed ‘Yes Man’ or not. I have loved Danny Wallace’s books and madcap ideas in the past, so I was hugely looking forward to it – but for some reason, it didn’t quite do it for me. Having said that, there were parts that I enjoyed a lot, but I did feel there were some problems with the book (for me) which I will attempt to explain.

Firstly, I will give a brief outline of the story. Danny talks at the beginning of the book about how he was becoming a bit of a recluse and turning down all his friends’ invitations for drinks, parties, etc. All this changes though when one night the tube train he is on is stopped and everyone has to take a bus. He finds himself sitting next to a man who he starts talking to and tells him about how his life is going. The other man gives a small piece of advice – just three words – ‘Say Yes more!’ Danny didn’t know this man from Adam, but he took his words to heart, and before he knows it he is saying ‘yes’ to everything! This would have been OK if it stopped at nights out and other invitations, but he feels he has to say ‘Yes’ to everything! This includes adverts in local newspapers and the internet, SPAM emails asking for lots of money and so it goes on!

Danny comes up with his own ‘Yes Manifesto’ which basically means that he pledges to say ‘Yes’ to everything until the end of the year. He shares this with his friend Ian who promises a very severe punishment if Danny should fail! However, no one else knows what he is up to and many of his friends are extremely puzzled by his behaviour especially when he sends a male friend flowers and adopts a third world child for his ex girlfriend! (All in the name of ‘yes’ of course!)

His escapades take him all over the place and introduce him to a wide array of very different people. This includes going to Wales and being hypnotised by a dog, travelling to Barcelona to meet a Spanish ‘Yes man’, attending a ‘bring a fact’ party, buying a car, travelling to Singapore, accepting a new job, and joining a ‘Say yes to Peace’ campaign, to name but a few! His yes manifesto means that he just cannot say no! It also means that when his Australian friend (and potential girlfriend) Lizzie jokingly responds to an email inviting her to the Edinburgh Festival, suggesting he buy her ticket, he has to say Yes!

And so it goes on. A further complication occurs when he starts receiving emails from an unknown person calling himself ‘the challenger’ This challenger keeps sending things or making outrageous suggestions which Danny feels compelled to say yes too! The later part of the book partly deals with his quest to find the identity of the challenger, and when he does, he is quite shocked by what he finds out!

The book is written in quite a chatty, tongue in cheek way, which is generally why I like Danny Wallace’s books. However, where I become unsure, is because I don’t think he can quite decide whether he wants to be very funny or deeply philosophical! He does make some very interesting observations, particularly when he traces back a whole chain of yeses and notes how one thing leads to another! For example, if he had not attended the ‘bring a fact party’ he would not have met the man from the Richard and Judy Show, which is why he ended up interviewing a group of monks, which in turn meant he heard about a man in Spain who also was only saying Yes (or ‘Si’!) I quite enjoyed this train of thought and found myself at times when reading the book becoming quite reflective about my own train of yeses!

The book does also make you think about how much more positive life can be when you are more open to saying ‘yes’ and then you are met with limitless opportunities. However, when you take away the option of saying ‘no, then life gets quite difficult, especially when saying yes can have quite a high impact on your credit card bill, or you find all your yeses are conflicting. This is where at times the book just seems to be downright daft! Some of the things that he says yes to are just plain ridiculous, and it also transpired that it often depended on how a question was phrased as to what the resulting action might be. At the end of the book, I think Danny does come to the conclusion that although saying ‘yes’ has made him a more open and positive person, he does sometimes need to say no too!

There is also a lot of thought given to the man on the bus who uttered those influential words of wisdom? Who was he? Was he some sort of superior being? Was he the ‘Maitreya. Now, forgive my ignorance, but I hadn’t heard of this before, but soon gathered that this means world teacher. This is an accepted idea in all world religions, and is whom Christians know as Christ, Jews know as the Messiah, etc. I felt at times, this was getting a bit too deep, especially when I was expecting to read a comedy!

The other thing that I felt about the book was that at just over 400 pages, it was just too long. At times there seemed to be too much meandering and rambling, and I do feel that perhaps at half its length it would have maintained my interest more. As it was I struggled to finish it, but as I hate to give up on any book, I guess I had to say ‘yes’ to getting to the end! And I’m glad I did, because the last few chapters definitely gained momentum, and I felt that by the end I was quite satisfied with what I had read.

So overall, would I recommend this book? I think I would but don’t expect a rip roaring comedy. However, it is a book that will make you laugh (or at least smile) in places, whereas at other times it will make you think. It certainly made me wonder what it would be like were I to start saying only yes, if only for a day – but with two small girls, I soon said ‘no’ to that!

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Yes Man
by Danny Wallace

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Written by kingfisher

My name is Jo and I have been married to Simon for nine years. We have two beautiful daughters – Rachel who is six and Natalie who is almost five and starting school in January. I also have two step children aged twenty one and seventeen so family life is never dull. I also manage to work three days for a local education authority where I support the teaching of literacy in primary schools. I love my job and it’s ideal for a book lover like me. In my spare time I run, dance and occasionally tread the boards with my local amateur dramatics group. My first love is reading though and you will never find me without a book on the go. My husband is also an avid reader and we are hoping to pass on our love of reading to our daughters. They certainly love their bedtime stories every night. Although I have and English degree and I am familiar with most of the classics, I generally read much lighter stuff these days. It’s mainly ‘chic lit’ but I also enjoy a good thriller or courtroom drama. I have so many favourite authors and this list tends to change regularly depending on what I am reading.

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