Entertainment » Books

Yes Man

by Ellen Wernecke
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Nov 28, 2008
Yes Man

Maybe Danny Wallace was always in the habit of taking advice from perfect strangers. Or perhaps that day on the bus was special. Whatever the motivation, Wallace claims to have sat next to a man on a London public bus, who may or may not have been an incarnation of God, and who instructed him simply, "Say yes." From there, his life was never the same.

"Yes Man" is best known right now as the source material for a Jim Carrey movie whose previews, full of unnatural brightness, have already started to infect public spaces. But let's not chain Wallace to Carrey's career. His book, while not always inspirational, is reasonably funny and delivers some truly touching moments. At first, Wallace's quest to say yes gave him mostly grief, from an awkward meeting with a pack of UFO enthusiasts to a quick path to ruin through panhandling. He narrowly escapes a beating and gets high with a bunch of antiwar activists. But some good comes out of it, or at least enough for him to extend the experiment through the end of the year, for while he may have endured an excruciating dinner with his ex-girlfriend and her new beau and taken a mystery drug in Amsterdam, he also found it within himself to push to new heights at work and begin a courtship with a girl who could be The One -- even though she lives in Australia.

Through it all, Wallace stays cheeky enough not to claim that he knew all along what he was doing would make him a best-selling author and the possessor of a movie deal. His point is pretty simple: We all know we'd have to be stupid to say yes to everything in life, but it's also a power within our grasp. Hey, thanks, stranger!

Simon Spotlight, 2005. 400 pages. IBSN: 1416900667. Available whereever books are sold or oneline through Amazon, in both trade and movie tie-in editions.

Ellen Wernecke’s work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and The Onion A.V. Club, and she comments on books regularly for WEBR’s "Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine." A Wisconsin native, she now lives in New York City.

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