When he met a man on the bus that told him to say `yes' more, Danny Wallace decided to embark on a project. If you've read Are You Dave Gorman? or Join Me then you will be well acquainted with the obsessive extent that Danny applies himself to such projects as well as his excellent ability to tell a good tale. Yes Man is no different: one hell of an inspirational tale of a remarkably silly yet brilliant idea.
He had been stuck in a rut, his girlfriend had left him and he was becoming a recluse. Persistent nay-saying had started to impact on his health, happiness and friendships; his life fast becoming a cycle or work, television and tea. The man on the bus had sparked a change and had inspired Danny to write The Yes Manifesto: say `yes' to every suggestion, proposal and invitation until the end of the year. That's yes to everything, no matter how ridiculous a yes may be.
With only a single friend holding knowledge of his plans, and a cruel forfeit looming should he fail, a farcical tale ensues to the point where the reader knows not whether to laugh, cringe or cry. Ranging from the innocent extra pints in the pub to a rather sinister trip to Amsterdam to meet a Nigerian bank scammer; Danny's life soon becomes consumed by the lack of power over his decisions.
One dimensional this tale is not. Like every good story, there is a bad guy on the scene. A third-party who becomes aware of his tactics and, in the guise of The Challenger, sets him on quests which he must say `yes' to. Unrelenting, Danny sticks to the manifesto and aims to see his task through several months until the stroke of midnight at New Year.
This is a hugely inspirational read and, despite being written from a comic angle, makes a serious point about the decisions that we take in our lives day in and day out. The thesis being that saying `yes' more will enrich our lives, a thesis that proved by Danny time and time again. Unfortunately for him however, saying `yes' without exception is predictably going to get you in trouble sooner or later.
It is impossible to read this and not admire Danny's resolve. As with the majority of elaborate plans, his endeavours are initially exciting but soon appear pointless and destructive. Whilst his life benefits from some of his yeses, not giving himself the opportunity to say `no' soon begins to impact on his personal relationships and also seriously on his finances. It is hilarious to observe Danny awkwardly share dinner with his ex-girlfriend and her new lover or to watch him say `yes' to an angry bloke in a club who poses the question, "are you looking at my girlfriend?" It is however equally despairing, car-crash stuff. At the point where he should really be saying to himself that enough is enough, he just keeps on saying `yes'.
The story sells itself and propelled in whichever direction the yeses take it but the fact that it comes from Danny Wallace gives it that extra edge. The abandon with which he throws himself into his task creates the extra drama that would no-way exist had another person come up with this idea. There is also the fact that Danny is eminently likeable. Not only is the story told in the simple and jovial way as though it could be a tale told down the pub, the reader is likely to end up wanting to buy him a beer if they ever bump into him down the pub. Danny throws his wit and character into this book in a remarkably honest way that is wholly endearing.
The emotion in this tale runs so high in the closing stages that hairs stand up on the back of the neck. Remember, this is a true story about one man's life and a word that changes his life in more ways than he could ever have imagined. Take from it what you will, be that inspiration, a light laugh of the opportunity to shake your head and tut. I guarantee you that you'll be glad that you read this however and that you learned about the crazy life owned by Danny Wallace.