One of my favourite books of the last few years is Dave Gorman’s America Unchained. If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s terrific. The premise is simple; Dave, disheartened at the demise of ‘mom and pop’ stores across America, attempts to drive from coast to coast without using any chain petrol stations, chain stores, or giving any money to The Man. I won’t spoil it for you by saying whether or not he achieves his aim, but in a way, it’s not important – what matters is the adventures he has, and the people he meets, along the way.
With fond memories of reading Unchained still in my mind, I had little hesitation in picking up a copy of Dave Gorman vs The Rest Of The World when I spotted it a few weeks back. I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint.
Wonderful observational humour
The premise, once again, is wonderfully simple, and it all starts with a tweet from Dave - ‘Does anyone play any games? Would you like a game?’
Now if I were to send that tweet out, I might get a couple of responses. Of those couple of responses, most would probably be sarcastic, and I’m doubtful if any would lead to an actual game. But when an award-winning stand up comic with a following of some 76,000 does it, the resulting influx of offers was more than enough to fill an entire book, and then some.With a bit of free time to kill, the author sets off on travels that take him the length and breadth of the UK in a quest to learn and play a range of games, some well known, many not.
There’s Smite in St Neot. Kubb in Milton Keynes. Ultimate Frisbee in Exeter, and the rather strangely named Settlers Of Catan in Stockport. There’s some familiar games on offer too, from Cluedo to Monopoly to Ping Pong. But whilst it’s interesting to learn about new games, where this book really flourishes, of course, is in Dave’s wonderful observational humour, as he explores the very finest of English eccentricity and asks: just what is wrong with meeting up with a perfect stranger? The answer – nothing. As long as you’re careful.
Although the book may now be published, the game-playing hasn’t finished – Dave is still open to more games, and is welcoming invitations at www.davegorman.com/game.html. Just don’t challenge him to darts – from the sounds of things, he’s really rather good at it.