Nowadays, the world is full of people trying to tell us things. So much so that we have taught our brains not to pay much attention. After all, click the mouse, tap the screen, flick the channel and it’s on to the next thing. But Dave Gorman thinks it’s time to have a closer look, to find out how much nonsense we tacitly accept.
Suspicious adverts, baffling newspaper headlines, fake twitter, endless cat videos, insane TV shows where the presenters ask the same questions over and over…
Can we even hear ourselves think over the rising din? Or is there just too much information?
This audiobook is narrated by Dave Gorman.
The books of Dave Gorman tend to be a go-to holiday read for me. They’re light, they’re funny and they’re easy to read. I’m (unfortunately) not on holiday at the moment but I was searching for an audiobook that I could use to fill in the little entertainment gaps in day to day life, to listen to when I do the dishes or unload the washing machine or wipe down the bathroom surfaces. You know, a soundtrack for greatly fun activities! What I really wanted was something that I could listen to in little bursts but would keep me entertained whilst doing the boring bits of everyday life.
Dave Gorman is a stand-up comedian who is known in the UK for his PowerPoint based comedy shows. Yes, he does comedy with the aid of PowerPoint… and it is great! He’s very funny and makes extremely valid points. One of his strengths is the validity of his observations on everyday life. He’s also written several books, generally narrative non-fiction detailing his aims to: meet 52 people called Dave Gorman, travel across the world meeting Googlewhacks, play a variety of games with people, travel across America without using any chain supermarkets, petrol stations, restaurants, hotels etc. I’ve enjoyed them all and especially would recommend America Unchained.
This book does not follow the same narrative pattern as those books, it doesn’t take us on a journey. Instead, we have a set of reflections about the modern world- from Cillit Bang adverts to the Mail Online’s liking for the use of the word “matching”. I watch Gorman’s show Modern Life is Goodish on DAVE (non-UK readers, please note- I do not just watch the show reflected onto Gorman himself… here in the UK, for some reason, we have a TV channel called DAVE. It mainly shows repeats of panel shows but it does have some original programming. It did used to have a catch-up sister channel called DAVE JA VU- really!!) and thought that this sounded a bit like a book/audiobook version of that. And, basically, that is what this is. To the extent that if you have watched the TV show some of the subjects that Dave talks about will be very familiar to you which can be a little annoying when you feel you are being given the same material in a different form. The other thing is that the show is, in essence, a comedy show. The loss of the little experiments he does in the show (putting Smarties in the dishwasher tablets, posting out £5 notes in envelopes to see if anyone steals the contents of the post) means that a little of the irreverence and joy that is at the core of Gorman’s comedy is missing. The book seems to be more of a rant at times. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. I like to rant as much as the next person and lots of subjects that Dave tackles are definitely rant-worthy but the comedic element was missing at times, meaning that he comes across as a little less friendly than he does on TV.
Some of the chapters are really short and the choppy nature of the audiobook means it is perfect for when you don’t have a long time put aside for listening. Short journeys, doing chores- it’s great for this. The few times I tried listening for longer periods of time I just started getting aggravated. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t annoyed with Gorman- it was this modern world and the modern media. Due to the strength of Gorman’s arguments and hearing it in his own voice it was easy to get carried away with a feeling of “Yeah! What is it with adverts these days? Bloody advertisers!” This is great for a short while but after a bit I just ended up in a mood. I think I do prefer a narrative when listening to audiobooks for longer periods of time.
Due to the nature of this book, the strength of the chapter sort of depends on how much you agree with him. I too was shocked when I found out about one of the biggest cover-ups in UK advertising (it all centres on Barry Scott!), have now taken to noticing the inane questions asked of quiz show contestants and have been keeping my eyes peeled for wrong information being constantly retweeted on Twitter. Most importantly, the main thing I took from this book is to repeatedly check that my Spotify account is not posting all of my guilty pleasure music onto Facebook!!
A good listen but definitely for filling time rather than long lazy audiobook days.