Danny Wallace – Awkward Situations For Men – Book review

Danny Wallace is the remarkable kind of man who can turn pub banter into multi-million pound media ventures. From each of his recent books, movies and TV series have sprung. You’ll already be aware of Yes Man, his book of saying yes to everything in the face of common sense. It quickly became a movie starring Jim Carrey. Miramax bought the film rights to his follow-up book Friends Like These. And no sooner do I discover Awkward Situations For Men in the bestsellers section of an airport bookshop, than I find out that it’s already transitioning into a sitcom in America. Starring Wallace himself.

Awkward Situations For Men is a collection of short anecdotes from a column Danny wrote for the Shortlist magazine. It’s loosely centred on social faux pas that Danny seems to commit on a daily basis. And most of them are the kind of thing that can only happen to a bloke.

It’s hard to dislike Wallace. He’s such an adorable manchild and so sickeningly positive in every endeavour. And being roughly the same age, I can relate to the slew of retro references and many of his viewpoints. He tells one particular anecdote in Awkward Situations about walking down an alley at night and realising he’s following a lone woman. Realising that she might feel threatened by a man walking down the road, he becomes utterly self-conscious about everything – if he makes a noise, will that startle her or reassure her (because he’s clearly not creeping up on her). Should he speed up his footsteps or slow them down? She’s going to think he’s a mugger or a rapist, isn’t she?

What else? He inadvertently makes mistakes where children are concerned: either by making comments that offend their parents, or staring at them too long on the tube and making their parents uncomfortable. To be fair, he thought he’d learned a way of making children laugh and was just trying it out. The resolution of that one will have you cringing with embarrassment on Danny’s behalf.

Meetings to arrange meetings, fertility tests, drawing female body parts on napkins at business dinners and joining yoga classes are among the subjects tackled. It all has a very pub-anecdote feel, especially the stories he tells about being down the pub. If there’s one criticism, it’s that occasionally the tales feel a little bit laboured.

Still, because it’s written as a series of short articles, you’ll find yourself breezing through Awkward Situations, and laughing along at Danny’s many inept ways of interacting with other people. You have to applaud Mr Wallace for managing to make a good living by essentially just being his goofy, geeky self and managing to remain as grounded as he appears to be in his books.

We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the television adaptation of this.

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