Friday, June 18, 2010

Believing in the Power of Yes

I don't think would have ever heard of Danny Wallace, let alone his book, if it hadn't been for the movie Yes Man. And I probably wouldn't have even bothered with being intrigued with the film if it weren't for Zooey Deschanel - who am constantly being teased about by Jyg and I know if she should read this blog, the teasing would ensue on a greater leaver. But after learning that the movie was inspired by a nonfiction book, I decided to read it first - later, I learned that the movie wasn't an adaptation, but my decision had already been made and there was no way I was going to put off my book hunt just because of one technicality. On a related note, I happened to find the book at a closing sale at the local Hollywood Video for a couple of bucks so I bought it and it sat on my shelf for about a month, gathering dust and waiting patiently for me to find, buy and read the book. 

What was my point again? Oh yeah, after a long grueling couple of months of book hunting, I decided the cheapest way to obtain the book wasn't also the quickest. So I swallowed my book hunter pride and bought it off I received in the mail a couple of weeks later and put on my queue (I don't really have a queue, it's just a pile of books sitting on my desk waiting for me to pick one up) and finished whatever it was I was reading last

I'm not a fan of the nonfiction genre because the truth can be stranger than fiction - it's not just a cliche, you know - and I'm always left wondering whether or not the author has taken some poetic liberties with his own life. But after reading some YA horror, a translation and a collection of short stories left me feeling I'd been cheated of great literature (thank you for that, Tumblr, by the way), I decided it might be time that I read a memoir of a Yes Man. And I'm glad I did. 

This book is full of your feel good moments - falling in love, growing up, having adventures, larger than life characters (hypnodog!), letting go - to spiritual aspects and a few moments of depression. It's real. It's a real book - and no, I'm not accusing anyone of saying it doesn't exist - but it's a book that you can read to feel better about the world, feel better about yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes and take risks even when you normally wouldn't. 

That being said, it's probably the only memoir I've ever read. Don't get me wrong, I've read several biographies and autobiographies, but never a book about a certain time the author's life. I've tried in the past - Cherry by Mary Karr comes to mind, Smashed is another one and then there's Prozac Nation - but I never got pasted the first few pages, or chapters. But Yes Man was different. How could I possibly say no to a book about saying yes? 

I couldn't, and there was never a time  I wanted to put it down - even when I should have been working, I was reading Danny Wallace's words, laughing with him and feeling sad when things were going differently than expected. In many ways, the book inspired me to say yes a little bit more. Even to things that I would normally find tedious or annoying - let me give it a try again. While reading, I even took down a couple of notes about references he'd make - I went as far as buying an Ian Rankin book just because he mentioned the author's name. 

Maybe this book can change my life around. Or maybe my cynicism is just too strong to be pushed under the mat. Either way, I've never thought about it until I read the book. And that says something, doesn't it? 

Now it's a matter of watching the film that the book inspired. 

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