by Dave Gorman

After a successful string of live gigs and a six-part BBC2 series, what can a book tell us that we don't already know about Dave Gorman's obsessive quest to track down his namesakes?

Thankfully, quite a lot. For although the story will be familiar to anyone who's seen the preceding shows, there's plenty new to enjoy in this retelling.

For starters, this is a proper grown-up tome, not just another cheap comedy tie-in. And, as a consequence, some of the gimmicks that made the earlier incarnations such a delight have been sacrificed. The mpdg - the number of miles travelled per Dave Gorman - that was once all-important has been relegated to a mere paragraph. And the beloved graph charting this statistic doesn't even rate a mention.

No, this book revolves around the odyssey itself. The ridiculous and desperate lengths Dave would go to in order to satisfy a drunken bet with flatmate Danny Wallace that he couldn't meet another 54 Dave Gormans (or Gormen, which we are told is the correct plural form) representing one for every card in the deck - including the jokers.

This is clearly one insane idea.

Nick Hornby may have explored the idea of men bringing security to their lives through obsessive devotion to music or football, but this raises the stakes to the nth degree. And what's worse is that this is non-fiction.

In fact, the closest equivalent in literary terms may well be The Dice Man novel. For Dave and Danny displace responsibility for their own unjustifiable actions onto the will of an unpredictable external force. For six months, the course of their entire lives was determined by the latest tip-off about the existence of another DG. They had no say in their own destiny, it was all about the quest.

And the book is much more 'they' than 'he'. While previous versions have been Gorman single-handedly recounting his eccentric tale, this is the first time we have heard from Danny, who accompanied him every step of the way.

In the book, the flatmates write alternate passages, a device that's nowhere near as offputting as it first appears. Thus the enthusiastic voice of Dave is constantly quelled by the grumpiness of Danny.

Now his curmudegonly attitude might be slightly affected - after all, how bad can it be adventuring around the world at your mad flatmate's expense? - but the counterpoint does add considerably to the story's interest. Especially as the way Danny's relationship with his girlfriend Hanne is battered by the boys' incomprehensible single-minded determination serves to highlight the increasingly gaping void between their lives and normal behaviour.

But, as before, it's the sheer madness of the quest that proves the compelling hook, complemented by the authors' lightness of touch and quickness of pace. And, of course, it is funny too.

Above all, though, this is a cracking adventure - and one which anyone can enjoy, even if you've never met a Dave Gorman.

Steve Bennett
September 10, 2001

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Published: 22 Sep 2006

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