on 14 November 2005
I'm so glad he's back!! My copy of the first Timewaster Letters is ragged from reading and re-reading so this has arrived just in the nick of time before it falls apart completely. After recommending this to friends, colleagues, parents, parent's friends, and boyfriend's friends (not to mention total strangers seeing me guffaw on the bus) as the funniest book I've read for YEARS I was anxious that a sequel might not live up to its brilliance. Well, I am overjoyed to say that this new volume equals, and dare I say? exceeds the hilarity of the first book. The letters are so silly, so insanely and addictively funny that I advise that you read them in small portions and resist the temptation to do the lot in one sitting (in the bath) as I did. Cooper for Prime Minister! (Night-time of course!)
on 20 April 2006
When I bought the first Timewaster Letters I was just about to go to my doctor with a horrible, horrible chest infection. I felt so terrible that as I walked down the street I was actually crying. But let us skip over that humiliating detail - I was early for my appointment so popped into the (warm - it was winter) bookshop, perused the book and bought it to cheer myself up. Then I had to sit outside the doctors (in January) because it was closed for lunch, and despite feeling SO ill (as evidenced by a hefty prescription, including an inhaler, see why I was crying now?) I actually had to stop reading the book because I thought the doctor wouldn't believe I was ill since I was laughing so much (and of course no longer had tears of breathing pain coursing down my face).
But that is all the long background to this second amazing book. It might not QUITE match the brilliance of the first but it is still miles ahead of any other comedy/'humour' book and can make me laugh (out loud! a cliche but a rarity for me, when reading at least) even when I reread letters over and over again. I love the recurring themes - wife's wretched ankle - and who could forget Parmaynu (I mean he IS an expert). Perhaps it's a pathetic thing to admit but it's a great book to flick through when I'm worried about a deadline or something and perks me up when I'm tired etc. Having written this, though, I'm realising that perhaps a more productive thing to do as I'm nearing a deadline would be to actually work... I really do have huge affection for this book.
Having said all this, the type of humour is just not going to appeal to some people (just look at some of the reviews below) - not because it's vulgar etc, but just as I can't rest until I see Lee Evans/My Hero/Jim Davidson banished from any media outlet recognisable to human senses, some people will bitterly regret buying this book. Have a look at the website mentioned in the main description, where you'll get a general idea of the kind of stuff in the book: there's even an unpublished letter or two there. I would say go to a bookshop but, you know, you're on Amazon...
The concept of this book is fairly similar to Henry Root but although I do love that quite a bit as well, I think this is better developed, better-natured and has more longevity (in terms of rereading).
I have never written a review before and to be honest don't intend to again. It's really a hassle. But surely this shows my love for this book - I truly recommend it.
It's not big. It's not clever. But, at times, it's very funny. I laughed despite myself. I knew what to expect, having read the original, and I wasn't disappointed. This book does exactly what it says on the cover. Prank letters addressed to associations, clubs, societies and so forth. The humour is playful, quirky and pointless, and not offensive, ridiculing or satirical. Not wishing to try to deconstruct what is essentially childish (I mean that as a compliment) pranks, I think the author is also parodying the art of letter-writing itself. It's a curious juxtaposition: the rigid formality, etiquette and pleasantries of the conventional letter and the nonsense which it conveys. It's all a little like some bizarre pantomime played over and over again. This book is an excruciating read. It's toe-curling. In a good way. I often found myself reading Cooper's letter and thinking to myself, "No! No! I can't believe you just said that! Don't say that!" Then I can't bring myself to turn the page to see what reply he received. Then they reply and I think to myself, "Good. That wasn't too bad. Now (to Cooper) don't string this out any longer -- I can't take it!" Of course he does. His correspondence with the British Shell Collectors' Club was intolerable! This is a perfect book to keep on a coffee table or next to a desk. Read only a couple of letters each day for a laugh. I wouldn't recommend reading it cover to cover as it will get repetitive.
on 30 November 2005
If in a moment of madness you "risk" picking up the RETURN OF THE TIME WASTER LETTERS by Robin Cooper, you will find yourself with a serious and incurable condition; a condition commonly referred to as Time Wasting Reading. It means that once you have started this book you will find yourself mesmerized, suffering from uncontrollable mirth and unable to stop reading.
I started by reading just one of the letters, I found myself trapped and unable to stop, and so read three … utterly ridiculous I thought, as I laughed out loud with tears rolling down my face. So I bought the book and laughed all the way home on the bus.
It is just wickedly funny and totally absorbing. A total waste of time certainly, but how I enjoyed it… the re-read was even funnier and the re-read of the re-read even funnier still.
Robin Cooper’s humour is wacky and totally outrageous. I recommended it to anyone, especially people who are too busy to have any time to waste…
on 2 January 2006
The original Timewaster Letters book was without question one of the funniest books I have ever come across. I had never heard of it and initially borrowed it. I recall being pleased that I had not read the book in public due to the embarassment that would have been caused by the extensive laugh out loud moments.
In the Return of the Timewaster Letters, that is gone. Initially I thought it was that the originality of the first book was what caused the laughs, so I re-read it and yes, I was still laughing out loud so the Return simply is not nearly as funny. There are some good moments, but they are few and far between.
If you have not read The Timewaster Letters, read that first. If you have read The Timewaster Letters, only read this if you were a major fan of the first book, though expect to feel a little let down.
on 14 November 2005
This is one of those rare comic gems you chance upon and then can't put down. I was bought it for my birthday and I'm still laughing to myself. Anyone with a sense of humour, especially a British one, can't fail to be amused.
The book does exactly what it says on the cover - its a charming collection of wonderfully stupid, pointless and at times insane correspondence with people who I can only assume are simply incapable of distinguishing between normal people and an obvious nutcase. Various requests to the British Domesticated Ostrich Association, the National Vegetable Society, the Bathroom Manufacturers Association and even 10 Downing Street and the Prince of Wales are all met polite, if confused responses.
But for me, the extensive report of Robin's encounter with aliens to the British UFO Research Association as well as the redesigned dart board to the Professional Dart Players Association (rectangular with hundreds of tiny triangle scoring zones), were works of genius.
I know what all my mates are getting this Christmas!
Nothing can top the inspired lunacy of the first edition of these letters. Perhaps the hilarity comes from the shock of the new, as I didn't find this follow up, although exactly the same scenario, as funny.
The premise is, Cooper writes bizarre and random letters to a bunch of real people/companies etc. They should throw the letters away as the ravings of a madman. Clearly they don't and correspondence ensues where the other party has taken their valuable time and effort to take him seriously and writes back with that in mind.
Don't get me wrong, these are still funny, and there are still some absolute gem, laugh out loud moments. But I did think the first letters were far funnier, so I would start there. Still recommended reading for a wet, rainy day when you're feeling a bit down. Better than a valium or a prozac.
on 26 October 2011
I approve wholeheartedly of this book, partly because it contains genuine letters and revives the flagging fortunes of the art. Read this if you have some time to waste and want to be amused. It consists entirely of letters from pseudonym Robin Cooper and replies from the organisations that he hunts down. The tell-tale 'end of correspondence' stamped at the bottom of a page gives away that here the unwitting victim gave up the game.
I suppose the art of writing a good letter involves giving several points at which the reader is itching to get their fingers on a pen and reply. Robin Cooper is an expert at this. How he gets responses from some of his unsolicited letters is remarkable, such as the six further letters from the English Table Tennis Association regarding his special 'Parmenu' range of table tennis bats.
You should know, on reading this volume or the first one, that Cooper sent out genuine letters detailing spoof nerdy interests or ideas. The humour is a cross between 'One Foot in the Grave', Colin from 'The Brittas Empire' and the kind of random topic selection of 'Ben' from Outnumbered, if a little more convincing.
Another joy is the, presumably genuine, organisations that Cooper writes to. This is a celebration of the love of the absurd, again something palpably English. Cooper flatters the Chief Executive of the National Association for Master Bakers by offering to bake a life-size model in dough of him and he calls it: "the first offer of its kind", unsurprisingly. Other organisations include the Sleep Council, Tennis Whales (sic), the Vinegar Brewer's Federation, The National Federation of Bus Users, and the International Guild of Knot Tyers, all most worthy, of course.
How many times had his letters been circulated and snorted over before an appropriately 'kind' and formal response worded?
These letters do not only make me agree with Harry Enfield that Cooper should be hit with a brick. They also restore my faith in human nature, if recognising that human nature is often woolly, prevaricating and obscure.
on 7 October 2005
Well - here we go again with more nonsense. But, it is really really funny and you will need to watch where you read it or you will get some strange glances as the tears trickle down your cheeks. What the palace made of Robin's suggestions, one can only imagine and I love the crosswords. You obviously need to have a certain bizarre sense of humour to enjoy it - but it just makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.
If you have read the first book, you will know what to expect - but whatever, read this one and enjoy!
on 13 November 2005
Never have I enjoyed a read more. It's simply hilarious - how Cooper comes up with his mad ideas I have no idea........page after page of off the wall requests, ponderings and inventions that whilst tickle the recipents of his letters, never belittle them. Pure genius that will make you laugh out loud over and over again! Off to buy the other one now!