Read this, it’s really good, the sales assistant at Waterstones in London’s Gower street assured me this summer, oh yes, what’s it about then? Well this man who’s a toothbrush salesman has to go on a long journey for his work and well, he’s quite a sad guy basically but it’s a brilliant read. So the conversation went and as the assistant had helped me with many of my other book quests I felt bad not taking him up on his recommendation despite not feeling quite convinced it was a must read. So as it was part of a 3 for 2 offer I went ahead and bought the book. I’m glad he foisted this book on me, it really is very good and our book club in Dubai (made up of a diverse mix of nationalities and temperaments) thought so too.
The hero of the book is Maxwell Sim (as in simcard) who used to work in the returns department of a well known West End toy store but has, due to a bout of depression brought on by his wife and daughter walking out on him, been off work, sanctioned by the occupational health department of the store. Never mind, his trusted and only friend Trevor comes to the rescue with a job offer that requires Max to drive a brand new Toyota Prius to the fartherst corner of the British Isles and thus prove the motto of the toothbrush company: we travel furthest.
Maxwell is just an ordinary bloke really and the book is full of references to ordinary places and things like Watford and toothbrushes. But Maxwell has become so ordinary that he is now uninteresting to any other human being and so he ends up in desperation resorting to taking on the persona of an amateur jewellery designer in order to befriend his wife again via Mumsnet (a popular UK online parenting site) and even talks back to and asks advice of his sat nav voice Emma. It doesn’t seem to be Maxwell’s fault that he is entirely uninteresting and boring, life just seemed to deal him these cards from a loaded deck. He tries valiantly to rekindle old friendships and relationships on his journey and even to make new friends along the way, often with hilarious and poignant results. The author uses the technique of Max finding stories actually written by characters in the book to illustrate some of the reasons Max is the way he is, but nothing can stop him from knowing or feeling that what’s missing from his life is warm, human, face to face contact and connectedness that only genuine friends, close family or being a member of a community (work or social related) can provide.
We all need to strive to maintain these connections so we don’t end up like Max, very easy to do in our age of virtual friends on Facebook, Friendster, Twitter, Tumblr, BBM and even email, so the next time you need to communicate with someone not far away from you, don’t become a member of the Twitterati, call them on the phone and arrange to meet up for a coffee and a chat. Let me know what you think of this funny, moving and cleverly written book by leaving me a comment in the box below.
And as books are sometimes difficult to get in Dubai, click on the book jacket shown and order straight from Amazon.