Monday, February 23, 2009

Join Me, by Danny Wallace

Oh my god, this was a funny book! You know the movie Yes Man, my now all time fav Jim Carrey movie? Well, before it became a film, Yes Man was actually a book. I'd wanted to get that at first, but my library didn't seem to have it, and this was by the same author, so I thought why not get this? The story is absolutely as hilarious as Yes Man. I'm serious. Someone should make a movie out of this. BTW, I know that I've already written a book review of Fly by Night today, and you might be a little "wow, how did she read this book so fast!?" See, I started reading this at the beach yesterday because I didn't want to bring Fly by Night. I try not to bring a lot of fiction to the beach. I was almost done with FbN anyway, like a couple of chapters, so it was no big deal.

So here are the facts. This book was published in 2003. It has roughly 340 pages/ 28 chapters + a prologue and epilogue, which = 30. This is a true story. I like these kind of true stories. Join Me reminds me of the guy with the red paper-clip, who was also an internet phenomenon.

Alright, this wild story is about Danny, who lives in London with his Norwegian girlfriend and has somewhat lost his direction in life. One day, a great-uncle he was never close with dies at 90 and at the funeral he learns that his great-uncle had this crazy idea once about gathering 100 people to live with him on a Switzerland farm. Told you he was crazy. People thought he was trying to start a cult or something and was wasting his time, so he got discouraged and quit after a week. He'd only gotten 3 people to join him. His family still laughs at that story, but Danny thinks it sounds like a pretty good idea. Well, it seems he has a penchant for wacky ideas. So on a whim he puts an ad in his local newspaper and prints two words. "Join me." The only thing he asks people to do to make sure they've joined is to send him a passport sized photo of his/herself.

A few days later, Danny gets his first Joinee. He's thrilled by the fact and pretty much immediately goes to meet him. The Joinee is nice and all, but he asks Danny what exactly he's joined him for. Danny hadn't even thought about it when he'd printed the ad, so that's a tricky question. The answer is delayed for a bit and in the meantime he puts a formal website for Join Me. All he knows is that Join Me is not a cult. It's a collective. Though he plays mysterious, he gains a few more followers who soon, for some reason unknown to himself, start calling him their Leader. Also, Danny doesn't think his girlfriend would aprove of this silly and pointless endeavor, so he keeps it a secret from her.

Slowly but surely, by spreading the word through leaflets, stickers, the internet and other mediums of advertising, Danny is soon Leader to 100 Joinees, just like his uncle would have wanted. But then his friend goes and tells him that that's hardly a big accomplishment and unofficially bets that he can't get 1000 Joinees. Danny accepts this bet.

It's a thrilling and funny story, with many unexpected twists. As his group of Joinees swells, he finds it harder to keep his Join Me dealings secret from his girlfriend. He appears in various newspapers as front page news and gets interviewed by morning talk shows. He finally figures out a purpose for Join Me, which is to be more friendly to people and make them happier. He starts a tradition called Good Friday, in which a Joinee must do at least one good deed every Friday. He becomes international, gaining Joinees from Belgium, Asia and more, and he even has a theme song made up for Join Me.

Trust me, this is a super wild adventure that you won't forget. Plus it's true. I had to keep reminding myself that because it was all so unbelievable and I kept thinking the plot sounded pretty fictitious. Danny Wallace's writing style is really good. It's almost as if it's a blog about his life. All the time he spends on the internet reminds me of myself on Blogger and all the friends I've made. Even if you don't end up Joining him yourself (I don't think I will), I'm sure you'll at the very least crack a smile. Go ahead. Look for the book and join him. In your mind, that is.

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