Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find My Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play

Overview

Danny Wallace has friends. He has a wife and goes to brunch, and his new house has a couch with throw pillows. But as he nears 30, he can't help wondering about his best childhood friends, whose names he finds in a long-forgotten address book. Where are they now-and where, really, is he?

Acting on an impulse we've all had at least once, he travels from London to Berlin, Tokyo, Australia, and California, risking rejection and ridicule to show up on his old pals' doorsteps. ...

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Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find My Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play

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Overview

Danny Wallace has friends. He has a wife and goes to brunch, and his new house has a couch with throw pillows. But as he nears 30, he can't help wondering about his best childhood friends, whose names he finds in a long-forgotten address book. Where are they now-and where, really, is he?

Acting on an impulse we've all had at least once, he travels from London to Berlin, Tokyo, Australia, and California, risking rejection and ridicule to show up on his old pals' doorsteps. Memories of his 1980s childhood-from Michael Jackson to Ghostbusters-overwhelm him as he meets former buddies who have blossomed into rappers and ninjas, time-traveling pioneers, mediocre restaurant managers, and even Fijian royalty.

Danny's attempt to re-befriend them all gives remarkable new resonance to the age-old mantra, "friends forever!"

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  • Friends Like These
    Friends Like These  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his latest, British humorist and TV personality Wallace (Yes Man) takes readers along on his quarter-life crisis quest to reconnect with childhood friends. Just months from his 30th birthday, Wallace found that "the evidence of impending adulthood" was all around him: he and his wife were eating healthy food, patronizing trendy bars rather than the neighborhood pub, and renovating their London home. When his parents send him a box of childhood mementos, Wallace gets the idea to locate as many childhood friends as he can before his next birthday. Traveling across the United Kingdom, out to Japan and elsewhere (even entertaining a trip to Fiji for one former school buddy), Wallace rediscovers shared memories, creates new tales and fulfills old dreams (including seeing a live Michael Jackson concert). By juxtaposing verbal snapshots of his childhood with his adult life and those of his friends, Wallace presents an entertaining (if somewhat shallow) look at the lives of a reluctantly maturing generation; fans of Gen-X and Gen-Y culture writers like Chuck Klosterman should find their overseas counterparts eminently relatable.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Approaching 30, Wallace (Yes Man; Join Me) wondered how he had become a man with throw pillows on his sofa and a social calendar that includes brunch. An old address book inspired him to go on a quest to find his 12 best friends from childhood to see how each is coping with turning 30 and to acknowledge the ways those friends influenced him. The resulting memoir, though a bit slow in the beginning, is a touching and often humorous look at how social networking and a willingness to travel can help long-lost friends reconnect. Wallace and the friends with whom he'd lost touch share memories of Michael Jackson, the Back to the Future trilogy, Ghostbusters, and the occasional practical joke. His narrative is a reminder of the importance of childhood memories. VERDICT Reminiscent of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, this memoir should appeal to male readers of a certain age and to anyone who has gotten hooked on networking web sites. [Film rights have been sold to Miramax.—Ed.]—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence
Kirkus Reviews
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 doinghousehold 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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316042772
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/2/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,245,013
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Danny Wallace is the author of The Yes Man, now a film starring Jim Carrey. He has hosted various television shows and starred in BBC documentaries. Currently, he has a weekly radio show on XFM in London, and three of his books have been bestsellers in the UK.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I love Danny Wallace's writing

    and I loved this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Friends Like These

    I wasn't sure what I would expect when I picked up Danny Wallace's "Friends Like These" but I was pleasantly surprised. I also wasn't sure if I could relate since Danny was about to turn 30 when he had this desire to find long lost childhood friends. I'm a 40-something and that gap is larger. Turning 30 and getting a box delivered from his mom with stuff from his childhood (how cool is that?) and finding an old address book starts him on his quest to locate and update that book. He travels to various countries, calls all over the place and has a wife that he should be quite thankful for. Many of us have wondered what happened to that kid you used to play with in kindergarten or the guy you hung out with in high school, but Danny made it his goal to find out. Wallace's writing is humorous and sentimental and made this a fine book to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it - had me laughing out loud!

    There are so many ways to find old friends and past classmates now. Most of them involve using the web. Which is great way to find people, but what about actually seeing them again?

    Danny Wallace is 29 yrs old. He is somewhat concerned with his impending 30th birthday.

    "On the brink of change? On the brink of finally, undeniably, irrefutably becoming ...a man?"

    At the same time he is pondering his approaching adulthood and all that goes with it - aquistion of display cushions, buying coasters, eating at a pub that features a sausage of the week - his mother gives him a box. It's filled with old photos, letters, mementos and an address book from his childhood.

    Wallace decides he must update his address book before he turns thirty. And so begins the hunt to find and reconnect with 12 friends from his youth.

    "Sometimes, to be at peace with what's coming up, you have to be in touch with what's already happened."

    What follows is hilarious, heartbreaking, thought provoking and thoroughly entertaining!

    Wallace's writing style is wry, witty and self deprecating. He has a way with words and had me laughing out loud many, many times in the first few pages and I wasn't even into the thick of the book yet. (The headlines from the Loughborough Echo are priceless!) The tone is familiar and you feel like would like to sit down and have a pint with Danny and his mates to catch up.

    I keep up with some of my childhood friends, but often wondered what happened to others. (Sally from Jellicoe Cres. - where are you?)

    Friends Like These is a great memoir and hugely entertaining read that will have you asking 'whatever happened to....?

    British author Wallace also penned the book Yes Man that was made into a movie starring Jim Carrey.

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    Posted April 16, 2012

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    Posted December 8, 2009

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted February 17, 2011

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