Join Me!
Danny Wallace
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Buy *Join Me!* online

Join Me!

Danny Wallace
337 pages
February 2004
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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While it seems that in the United States young adults keep getting busier and busier, continually adding activities to an already full calendar, juggling dating, career, family, and friends, it seems that in England blokes have a lot of time on their hands. At least, Danny Wallace does.

In his sheer boredom and with a little inspiration from his recently deceased great-Uncle Gallus, who, he discovers, tried to start a commune, Wallace undertakes a little project. The only goal of his “stupid boy-project” (as called by his girlfriend Hanne), or the “collective” (as it is called by Wallace - it’s not a cult) now-titled “Join Me,” is to get folks to, ahem, join him.

The unforeseen problem to Wallace’s plan? Folks start joining. But what, they demand to know, are they joining? Wallace isn’t sure – he just wanted to have a group of folks who joined together in a Seinfeld-esque nothingness. But, he soon realizes, in order to keep his “joinees” he will have to hatch a plan, a goal, a purpose for this “collective” (it’s not a cult). And so, in his mysterious position as the now-named “Leader”, he sends out his directive. Do good deeds. For old men. On Fridays.

What Wallace begins with a newspaper classified becomes a website, and eventually some flyers and stickers and t-shirts start floating around until, ultimately, international travel is unavoidable and hiding the project from his girlfriend is nearly impossible.

Wallace quickly adds another nail in the coffin of the stodgy old British gentleman stereotype and leaves us with a younger, hipper bloke and the story of his “collective” (it’s not a cult). Not-quite travel-log (his brief forays to Belgium, Norway, France, and Scotland are not for sightseeing but mostly for meeting and recruiting joinees at famous landmarks), not-quite self-help, (although it is easy to see how wonderful Wallace and his joinees feel doing good things for others), not-quite memoir (although we do get quite a snippet of Wallace’s life), not quite humor book (although he continually makes himself the butt of most of his own jokes), the book seems to draw a bit on all of these styles.

His witty, conversational writing makes for fun, light reading in the manner of the Dave Eggers/McSweeney’s crowd, and while the narrative itself lags a bit between joinees 200 and 284, Wallace’s tale is, overall, funny, sincere and inspiring. Wallace’s lengthy list of kudos for Join Me! includes letters from British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Charles, and leaves one wondering why Americans haven’t heard about Join Me! before now. Fortunately, readers can rest assured that Join Me! will soon be landing on US shores.

© 2004 by Jessica Ferguson for Curled Up With a Good Book

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