For anyone who has ever felt awkward. Ever.

For anyone who has ever felt awkward. Ever.

“‘Well,’ I say, trying to make it sound like an important word, an historic word.”

Everyone has that list of historical or famous people in their head that they’d love to go to the pub with and discuss the ins and outs of the world over a couple of drinks. Mine, for example, includes Agatha Christie, J K Rowling, Stephen Fry, P T Barnum and, in a category of his own, Danny Wallace.

Wallace is one of those people who is incredibly prolific, but most people still seem unaware of who he is. He’s presented a few TV shows, turns up on panel games occasionally, voices a character in the Assassin’s Creed games, but is probably most famous for his books. He is the former flatmate of Dave Gorman, a man well known for ridiculous challenges, like travelling the world to find people who shared his name, or living his life by horoscopes. This rubbed off on Wallace, who has since formed a cult simply by asking people to join him, or spending six months answering “yes” to every question he was asked.

This one, however, is simply about the awkwardness that he faces in day-to-day life. He did this once before in Awkward Situations For Men, and this is the sequel, because things haven’t stopped being awkward. Here, he’s just had a baby and that adds to further embarrassment and confusion about how to behave. The book centres around the notion of unspoken rules about the world, and what happens when people break them. For example, how are you supposed to react when someone sits next to you on a park bench, even though all other benches are unoccupied? Or what’s the protocol for when you and a stranger fall into step with one another in the street? And how many times can you ask someone to repeat something you haven’t heard before you have to reply? (Three.)

Wallace writes in a style that makes it feel like you’re just sat in the pub (much as I said I desired in my previous fantasy). He has a middle-class innocence about him, a sweetness and a desperation to make sure he doesn’t accidentally insult someone or appear racist or unfriendly. Whether he’s being made to feel bad about his lack of masculinity by a fox, or hoping people don’t think he’s incapable of pressing a lift button, Wallace tells it like it is and struggles with his Britishness to survive the horrible awkwardness of every sitation.

The title may announce that these are awkward situations for men, but they apply equally to both genders so if you’ve ever felt a bit awkward and not really known what to do (and, let’s be honest, you’ve probably felt that way at least twice today already), this book will help you realise that you are not alone.

Advertisements