A British writer and broadcaster turns the familiar angst of approaching age 30 into a diverting adventure.
Wallace, whose previous book (Yes Man, 2005, etc.) inspired the recent Jim Carrey movie, recounts his summer-long attempt to find a dozen old school friends to see how they were faring as they were leaving their 20s. Prompted by the lawnmowers, lattes and other “evidence of impending adulthood” encountered after his move from the East End to upscale North London, the author used an old address book and the Internet to track down and visit long-lost buddies in Los Angeles, Melbourne, Berlin, Tokyo and London. Though the narrative is sometimes overblown and meandering, Wallace has an upbeat style and an eye for bright anecdotes as he writes about others in his Generation X group who grew up in Scotland and the Midlands, enamored of video games, Michael Jackson and Back to the Future. There is Anil Tailor, now an architect, with whom the author once sat reading comics under “the magic tree”; Cameron Dewa, a London IT specialist and third in line to the throne of Fiji; and Akira Matsui, a Japanese medical doctor who jokes about the day a mutual childhood friend did the crane kick from The Karate Kid on his head. Along with a Berlin rapper, a British restaurant manager who has mastered time travel and others, his friends are finding their way, beginning marriages and careers, and react with delight at Wallace’s often-surprise visit. When not describing aspects of his search, the author recalls hilarious bygone moments, from playing phone pranks to delivering newspapers to a Mr. Shitler. “I’m a child!” he tells his patient wife, Lizzie, who agrees to his sojourn in return for his doing household chores. But all is not lighthearted—one old friend, he learns, died at 18. Reflecting on his rite-of-passage travels, Wallace concludes, “Yeah, we all grow up. We all get busy. But we all need friends.”
Great fun, especially for anyone facing the Big 3-0.