Book Jacket

 

rank 2036
word count 36606
date submitted 08.12.2010
date updated 19.12.2011
genres: Literary Fiction, Romance, Comedy
classification: universal
incomplete

The Year of Living Philosophically

Robert Grossmith

Can philosophy improve the love life of terminally single Dave Gardner? From hedonist and stoic to existentialist and postmodernist, he tries to find out.

 

Bored with his job as a bilingual dictionary editor at a Norwich publishing house, Dave decides to spend the next twelve months living according to the prescriptions of twelve different philosophies, one each month, chosen at random from a Duffer's Guide to philosophy. His purpose is to see whether any of these philosophical systems will improve his blighted existence and aid his pursuit of the office hottie, Vanessa.
Trouble is, Vanessa's already engaged to the dodgy (and mysteriously wealthy) Dominic. Dave suspects Dom of nefarious activities -- cigarette smuggling? cannabis farming? -- and turns detective in order to expose him, with unexpected results. So overpowering is Dave's infatuation with Vanessa that he barely notices the attention he's receiving from another colleague, the eminently more suitable new secretary Jo.
Month after month, Dave's philosophical experiment backfires in spectacular fashion. His pain-control exercises during his stoic month leave him requiring urgent medical attention. His attempts to live as a rationalist, an empiricist and a logical positivist -- whatever that is -- bring further disasters. As New Year's Eve approaches, he finds himself jobless, penniless, friendless and more single than ever, with only one day left in which to turn his life around.

 
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March: the Stoic

MARCH:THE STOIC

 

Mon, Mar 1

This month's philosophy, as determined by my finger-picking method, is Stoicism. It was a close-run thing. A couple of inches higher and it could have been Sophism, which seems to have been the idea that you can make anyone believe anything, given a few cheap rhetorical tricks.

    Like hedonism, I thought I already knew what Stoicism was until I read the entry from Duffers. There I was informed that it combined the determinism of the Atomists with the hedonism of Epicurus.

    The debt to Atomism consisted in the idea that everything was entirely predetermined, though in accordance with 'divine will' rather than the Atomists' mechanical necessity. Our freedom as human beings lies in the fact that we can either assent to the divine will or dissent from it. In other words, attitude is everything. It's all about accepting your fate, whatever that happens to be, rather than complaining about it. Basically, Stoicism seems to have been an early version of Monty Python's 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' with a bit of grin-and-bear-it and stiff-upper-lip thrown in.

    As for the debt to hedonism – again I'm paraphrasing Duffers here -- the Stoics developed Epicurus' emphasis on reducing one's desires so they can more easily be satisfied. But they went further, believing one should cultivate a state of apathy or indifference to pain and pleasure, likewise to material possessions, so as to make oneself immune to adversity. This reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons where Homer advises Bart to aim low in life because that way he won't be disappointed. Homer seems to be a weird mix of Stoic and hedonist: he reduces his expectations of pleasure so as to increase his enjoyment of pleasure.

    In light of the above, I've come up with a few Stoic resolutions of my own for this month:

·          eat a frugal diet (rice, potatoes, fruit), no crisps or chocolate

·          ration my booze intake to 4 units a day, and jam doughnuts to one a day

·          renew my lapsed gym membership

·          regulate my TV viewing

·          read for at least an hour a day

·          go to bed at a reasonable hour

    I'll begin this new regime tomorrow as there's a late movie on tonight that I want to watch and anyway I've already broken the first two resolutions.

 

Tues, Mar 2

Popped into Waterstone's at lunchtime, bought the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Selected Works of Cicero and Seneca's Letters from a Stoic. Jerome spotted them on my desk during the afternoon and tried not to look impressed.

    After work did a big shop at Sainsbury's. Filled trolley with dirt-cheap own-label items, figuring there probably wasn't much difference in quality between these and the pricier stuff. But there is. Rustled up a chicken curry with own-label chicken and own-label veg tonight and ended up throwing most of it away.

 

Weds, Mar 3

Made appointment at pain control clinic in Colney for next Tuesday. Figured I could get some general tips on how to raise my pain threshold. 80 quid plus VAT for a one-off consultation sounds a bit steep, but hopefully I'll save more than that on painkillers over the course of a lifetime, so probably worth it.

 

Thurs, Mar 4

Took a packed lunch to work today (cheese sandwiches, yogurt, banana) as part of my new regime of simplicity and moderation in all things. Around 12.30 Jerome poked his head over my cubicle wall.

    'Coming for lunch?'

    I told him no, I'd brought sandwiches.

    'What, money not that tight, is it?'

    I said no, it wasn't that, I had a dicky stomach. Then for some reason I decided to add, 'irritable bowel.'

    'Oh dear, nasty,' he said. 'Well, see you later.'

    Only then, as he walked past my cubicle entrance, did I see that he was accompanied by Vanessa. So Vanessa must have heard what I said about having an irritable bowel. Which means that now, whenever she thinks of me – which of course she probably never does -- she'll think of diarrhoea. Another own goal. They seem to be mounting up.

 

Fri, Mar 5

There are some things I'm finding it very hard to be stoical about. One of these is the almost constant barrage of deafening music from my upstairs neighbour, Gemma. I can't help thinking she's cranked up the volume even higher, as some sort of punishment, since I dumped her friend Cat.

    Tonight I tried watching TV with the subtitles on, having abandoned any attempt to compete sonically with the screech-fest from above, but soon gave up when it became clear the subtitling was the work of a drunken surrealist poet. A documentary about the favelas of Rio had the people living 'under Paul O'Grady conditions.' Poor, degrading conditions? Appalling, degrading conditions?

    I try to retain my equanimity. I seek comfort in the Stoic authors.

Seneca: A man is as miserable as he thinks he is. Marcus Aurelius: If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs you but your own thinking about it, which you can change.

    Which is all very well in theory. But sometimes the music's so loud that thinking anything at all's impossible; I literally can't hear myself think. Maybe I should contact the noise pollution unit at the local council, get a decibel reading. In the meantime I content myself with turning the volume on my iPod up to max, so at least I'm deafened by my own music rather than someone else's.

 

Sat, Mar 6

Had the mother of all clear-outs at home – the Stoics seem to have been the original downshifters. Filled half a dozen bin liners with stuff I don't need or never use – clothes, books, knick-knacks, bedding, table lamps – and took them to the animal charity shop in Anglia Square. The old biddy behind the counter was less grateful than I'd expected, I had to wait while she went through each of the bags in turn, deciding whether or not to accept them. Honestly! I felt like saying something – beggars can't be choosers came to mind – but managed to button my lip and put on a forbearing smile.

    The flat's almost empty now, looks like I've just moved in. You could count my possessions on your fingers if you were a pair of conjoined twins: bed, sofa, table, chairs, and a few sleek black boxes and their accompanying wafer-thin screens. Not just a Stoic but a minimalist too! I have to admit it feels quite liberating. I feel less restricted somehow, lighter. How does the old song go? Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose? Not sure I should have given all the table lamps away, though.

    Dinner with H and Jane at their place in Bowthorpe. Delicious meal of French onion soup and succulent lamb casserole followed by a heavenly light-as-air lemon sorbet. I tried not to enjoy it too much.

    Jane went to bed early, heaving her enormous bump up the stairs like an oil drum strapped to her stomach, while H and I got stuck into the 12-year-old malt he usually reserves for special occasions. He asked for my advice. Says he's met a woman at the recruitment agency where he spends most of his days and is thinking of starting an affair. I tried discouraging him, told him he's got too much to lose: lovely wife (well, I was being generous), nice house, child on the way. I quoted Cicero to him: 'To be content with what one has is the greatest and truest of riches.' He said yeah, that was all very well, but Cicero probably had his pick of nubile Roman slave girls.

 

Mon, Mar 8

The Stoics believed in what's called eternal recurrence. They believed the universe began with a giant conflagration and would end with another such conflagration, after which the whole cycle would begin again. Not only that but, in line with the determinism they inherited from the Atomists, they believed the universe repeated itself with absolute unvarying exactitude each time. Which means I've written this sentence an indefinite number of times before in the past and I'll write it an indefinite number of times again in the future. This is possibly the most depressing idea I've ever heard in my life – or, if the Stoics are right, in any previous or future life.

    I found myself thinking about this today because there was a young female translator from Denmark in the office, working with Jerome on the English-Icelandic project he heads up. As I walked past his cubicle on my way to the coffee machine, I overheard him talking about sunshine and reflected light.

    '...Whether the surface is wet or not. Whether the light is passing through clouds. So you've got glow, glint, glisten...'

    Suddenly I thought I knew how the Stoics must have felt.

 

Tues, Mar 9 

The Tower Hospital is situated a few miles west of Norwich in pleasant rural surroundings. I followed the signs to the Outpatients Dept and parked my clapped-out S-reg Polo in between a brand-new Z4 Beamer and a Jeep Grand Cherokee, distinctly lowering the tone of the neighbourhood. The slanting evening sun warmed my face as I approached the entrance, bringing with it the first authentic whiff of spring.

    I entered a modern red-brick building with a tasteful interior of glass and wood. Confirmed my appointment with the slim blonde receptionist and was asked to complete a short medical history and supply my credit card details.

    'There's a table over there, bit more comfortable,' she said, smiling and nodding to a pair of sumptuous Italian-leather armchairs and an expensive-looking deco table. 'Can I get you a tea or coffee while you're waiting?'

    'Thanks, a coffee would be nice,' I said. 'But I'd like to pay cash if that's OK.'

    The smile froze on her lips. She looked at me askance, as if I was persisting in some ridiculous outmoded custom belonging to another age. 'If you must,' she said.

    The coffee never appeared.

    The consultation took place in a bright cheerful room with a Dr Subramaniam, a small dark man with an excessively polite manner. He asked me what I did for a living and went through my medical history with me, commenting on my bee-sting allergy but tactfully skirting my teenage circumcision. Then he sat back in his chair and looked slightly confused.

    'I'm slightly confused,' he said. 'There's nothing here about any present medical condition. So I'm wondering where exactly is your pain and what do you think might be causing it?'

    'I'm not in any pain,' I said.

    'But I thought... You do understand, you've asked for pain-control advice.'

    'Yes, I know. That's what I want. For when I'm in pain in the future. Which I'm sure I will be at some point.'

    'I see,' Dr Subramaniam said. 'Well, that's rather unusual. And extremely far-sighted of you, I must say. But it means that most of the treatments I might recommend aren't appropriate in your case. For example electrical stimulation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and so on.'

    I waited for him to continue.

    'I suppose I could teach you a few techniques you could employ for yourself. In future. When you're in pain.'

    'That sounds like it might be useful.'

    'Very well.'

    He asked me to lie down on the couch and make myself comfortable. No, I didn't need to remove my shoes. Not unless they were hurting me of course, he added with a shy little laugh.

    First of all he got me to concentrate on breathing correctly, which meant deeply and evenly. Then he led me through a series of mental exercises, from one called dissociation to another called sensory splitting, all of which in one way or another involved detaching my attention from the source of the pain – in my case the imaginary pain – and thinking of something else instead, such as a sunny beach or a machine that sucks up pain.

    I know the names of all these techniques because, before I left, Dr Subramaniam gave me a printout listing 'Ten Top Pain-Management Methods,' including all those he'd just shown me. Then he shook my hand and said goodbye. Probably easiest 80 quid he's ever earned.

    When I got home I tried practising some of the techniques I'd been taught, but it was hard to know whether or not they were working when there wasn't any pain to control. So I began digging my thumbnail into the palm of my left hand and seeing how long I could stand it for. Then I attached a few clothes pegs to my cheeks and noted how long I could tolerate that for. The answer was: not very long. Then I repeated both procedures while trying to concentrate on my breathing and practise some of the pain-control methods I'd learned from Dr Subramaniam. The idea was to compare my levels of pain-tolerance with and without the new techniques. The trouble was my hand and cheek were still really sore from the first run so, when I did the second run, I scored much lower, even though I was using the new techniques. I'll have to give this some more thought.

 

Thurs, Mar 11

The pain-control experiments are proceeding quite well. Tonight I managed to hold my left hand over the gas ring at a height of 12 inches for 22 seconds, a personal best.

 

Fri, Mar 12

Seems I was a bit over-zealous in my pain experiments.

    Woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating agony. Switched on the light and had a look at my left hand. I could actually see the blisters forming, bubbling under the skin. The palm of the hand and the undersides of the fingers had the texture and colour of roast chicken skin. Took a couple of Neurofen and tried out my new pain-control techniques but neither the pills nor the visualization exercises made the slightest difference. It felt like someone was holding my hand inside a blast furnace.

    First thing this morning I drove to the NHS walk-in clinic in Castle Mall, one-handed all the way, too painful to touch anything with my left hand, lucky I've got an automatic. While I was waiting to be seen I called work, spoke to Jo, told her I'd be late, a bizarre ironing accident.

    I gave the same explanation to the doctor who examined me, a sweaty grumpy man in his forties. Told him I'd tripped over the cord while doing the ironing, knocked the iron off the ironing board, grabbed hold of it to stop it hitting the floor but grabbed the wrong side. I could see he didn't believe me -- perhaps my blisters aren't the sort of blisters you'd expect from an iron-grabbing accident.

    'Look, I won't beat about the bush,' he said. 'Did you inflict these injuries on yourself?'

    'No! Or rather yes. But I didn't do it deliberately!'

    He turned to the computer behind him and keyed in a few words. Great. So now my medical record will contain 'possible self-harmer' or something similar.

    Then he wrote me out a prescription for heavy-duty painkillers and left. A nurse came in and dressed my hand with a thick while salve and an endless-seeming bandage, which she wound around my hand like she was wrapping an Egyptian mummy, rendering it for all practical purposes useless. I tried to imagine a giant Dyson vacuum cleaner hoovering up the pain but it didn't do much good.

    At work everyone wanted to know what had happened to my hand, so I had to repeat my bogus explanation about the ironing accident and pretend through gritted teeth that I wasn't in too much discomfort.

    As I passed Vanessa's cubicle at lunchtime I heard her and Aysha talking in lowered voices. I clearly heard my name mentioned. Then Aysha said 'A bizarre ironing accident!' and they both shrieked with laughter.

 

Sun, Mar 14

Been so preoccupied with my pain experiments and my damaged hand that I clean forgot about Mother's Day. Too late for a card or flowers so I made a call. Bad move. Apparently Mum's taken to her bed, hasn't been in to work at the laundry for three days, she's so worried about me. She's convinced I've got some horrible disease.

    'Have you, son?' my dad asked in his gentle coaxing voice. 'Is that what it is? You shouldn't be afraid to tell us, you know, we're strong enough to take it. What is it, cancer? AIDS?'

    'Dad, read my lips. Oh, you can't, OK. Well, listen to what I'm saying. I haven't got any kind of horrible disease or sickness, all right? Not cancer. Not AIDS. Nothing.'

    'Is it money problems then? You know we're only too happy to...'

    'Dad, no, it's not money.'

    'You're not a drug junkie, are you?'

    'No, Dad, I'm not a jug drunkie, I mean a drug junkie. Look, put Mum on, will you? I'll try and explain.'

    It's been a while since Mum had one of her depressive bouts. When I was growing up it used to happen all the time – the slightest note of discord round the Sunday dinner table and she'd be upstairs, wailing and sobbing for days on end. Dad would have to take time off work to look after her. He lost a couple of jobs that way.

    There was a long pause before I heard Mum's weak trembling voice at the other end of the line. 'David? Is that you?'

    'Yeah, Mum, it's me. Look, I know you're worried about me. And I know I've been acting a bit... well... strange lately. But here's why, OK. It's a bit complicated but I'll try and keep it simple. It's because I'm conducting a sort of experiment, a sort of philosophical experiment if you like. I'm trying to find out... well anyway, never mind about that, but in January I was trying to think and behave like a Determinist, OK? You know? Someone who believes everything is already predetermined? Which is why I couldn't make up my mind about anything. Then last month, well last month I was a Hedonist, so...'

    'Stop!' she cried. 'David, please, stop! You're talking gibberish. Oh God, Jim!' I heard her moan to my dad through her choking sobs, 'it's even worse than I thought. David, please promise me you'll get some help for this. A psychiatrist, a counsellor, someone...'

    'Mum,' I said, but she'd already passed the phone back to my dad, though I could still hear her long wailing cries like those of a wounded animal in the background.

    'She'll be all right in a little while,' my dad said. 'I'll calm her down, make her a cup of tea. Thanks for calling.'

    'Happy Mother's Day, Dad.'

    'Happy Mother's Day, son.'

 

Chapters

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YvonneMarjot wrote 334 days ago

This is great! Most fun I've ever had studying philosophy, and I've only got through Determinism and Hedonism so far. I love Dave's voice - how can someone so apparently superficial do such a good job of presenting these philosophies? At first I struggled with the diary format - it didn't seem to flow well - but now my mind's got itself round the format I'm really enjoying it. I haven't spotted any obvious typos and I really have no complaint about your writing style. I'll come back to you later if I have anything useful to say, but at the moment I'm just happy to back you and keep on reading. Best wishes, Yvonne.

Carol Repton wrote 362 days ago

This is hilarious, Robert! Reading the first three chapters kept me amused all afternoon at work. No, seriously, it reads like a male Bridget Jones' Diary, in a good way. And I'm sure there's a gap in the market for that kind of book - I would buy it.
Dave comes across as a very sympathetic, sensitive soul, obsessed with words and wordplay, which appeals to me, as I'm similarly obsessed. I like the whole concept of the plot as well, of trying out a different philosophy each month - it's original and clever. And it was quite endearing how Dave put so much effort into pursuing each of his randomly picked philosophies.
I like the faux naive, ironic tone of the first-person narrator, and the way his thought processes often contradict what he is saying to the other characters. I love the setting in the publishing house with its dictionaries from the most obscure countries imaginable! And I especially like Dave's desperate infatuation with the seemingly unattainable Vanessa. The description of Vanessa in the car in chapter 1 spoke volumes about how Dave felt about her, and skilfully used a lot of "gl" words at the same time, so it was both poignant and ironic.
Dave's affair with Trouble in chapter 3 in his pursuit of Hedonism was very funny, and it was quite telling that this still didn't make him happy.
I have very little to fault with this. Just a few minor points:-
I think it would be better not to abbreviate certain words but write them out in full, e.g. "Xmas", "Sat", and to write out numerals.
chapter 1 - "With a certain trepidation..." - I think you may have meant "With some trepidation..."?
typo - "It was as I was having these..."
chapter 2 - spelling - "plastic stationery tray"
I enjoyed this, and will be back to read more...

Carol
Worst Case Scenario

Ray007 wrote 1229 days ago

Wow! There are not many books (hardly any in fact) which make me laugh out loud, but this one has on many occasions. Can't wait to read the rest. The fact that it is thought-provoking, sensitively crafted, very well-written, and manages to convey complex ideas ('philosophies') in such a natural and engaging narrative way is all the more to its credit. I generally find books either slop or onerously hard-going. For me, Robert Grossmith hits just the right spot: : A funny, intelligent, and most enjoyable read. In a word - classy.

mick hanson wrote 943 days ago

This is really good fun. It moves well and is highly entertaining, and the last paragraph where he uses determinism in a practical sense gave me a dose of the giggles. I cringed, I just couldn't help it. Excellent and backed - Wilfred

belia wrote 957 days ago

Original, knowledgable, clever, funny, irresistible... Backed and starred.

All the best, and honestly hoping to see it in print.

Evangeline (belia)

YvonneMarjot wrote 334 days ago

This is great! Most fun I've ever had studying philosophy, and I've only got through Determinism and Hedonism so far. I love Dave's voice - how can someone so apparently superficial do such a good job of presenting these philosophies? At first I struggled with the diary format - it didn't seem to flow well - but now my mind's got itself round the format I'm really enjoying it. I haven't spotted any obvious typos and I really have no complaint about your writing style. I'll come back to you later if I have anything useful to say, but at the moment I'm just happy to back you and keep on reading. Best wishes, Yvonne.

Carol Repton wrote 362 days ago

This is hilarious, Robert! Reading the first three chapters kept me amused all afternoon at work. No, seriously, it reads like a male Bridget Jones' Diary, in a good way. And I'm sure there's a gap in the market for that kind of book - I would buy it.
Dave comes across as a very sympathetic, sensitive soul, obsessed with words and wordplay, which appeals to me, as I'm similarly obsessed. I like the whole concept of the plot as well, of trying out a different philosophy each month - it's original and clever. And it was quite endearing how Dave put so much effort into pursuing each of his randomly picked philosophies.
I like the faux naive, ironic tone of the first-person narrator, and the way his thought processes often contradict what he is saying to the other characters. I love the setting in the publishing house with its dictionaries from the most obscure countries imaginable! And I especially like Dave's desperate infatuation with the seemingly unattainable Vanessa. The description of Vanessa in the car in chapter 1 spoke volumes about how Dave felt about her, and skilfully used a lot of "gl" words at the same time, so it was both poignant and ironic.
Dave's affair with Trouble in chapter 3 in his pursuit of Hedonism was very funny, and it was quite telling that this still didn't make him happy.
I have very little to fault with this. Just a few minor points:-
I think it would be better not to abbreviate certain words but write them out in full, e.g. "Xmas", "Sat", and to write out numerals.
chapter 1 - "With a certain trepidation..." - I think you may have meant "With some trepidation..."?
typo - "It was as I was having these..."
chapter 2 - spelling - "plastic stationery tray"
I enjoyed this, and will be back to read more...

Carol
Worst Case Scenario

Juliet Ann wrote 853 days ago

About to begin Platonist - really enjoying it. One minor point is it Cat or Trouble?

mick hanson wrote 943 days ago

This is really good fun. It moves well and is highly entertaining, and the last paragraph where he uses determinism in a practical sense gave me a dose of the giggles. I cringed, I just couldn't help it. Excellent and backed - Wilfred

Laura Bailey wrote 952 days ago

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the read, I enjoyed this. I like your modern take contrasted with age-old philosophy. I also like how you subtly move between tenses and I think in the first chapter you introduce Vanessa well.

My nitpick would be from the first chapter, I'm not sure that Jerome is fully believable. On the one hand he seems a tad geeky and he has hairy hands but on the other, he seems very brash and I'd imagine polished if he is able to kiss a group of girls, one of whom in particular is "not bad". I don't think that woulld take much fixing. I'd perhaps go either a bit geeky and in his drunken mindset he tries it on with the girls but they knock him back or kiss him then giggle etc. Or, go for the polished approach and remove the reference to the hairy hand and have him in a suit and smart hair etc. Something like that, anyway. Obviously this is just a suggestion but I do think it would just tie up your opening, which I think is engaging.

Hope this is useful.

Best wishes,

Laura
Beneath The Blossom Tree

CBK wrote 955 days ago

A great idea - obviously there is a danger of being seen as just copying other books with a similar premise theme - but that doesn't bother me one bit - even just reading the pitch makes me want to see the impact these different philosphies has on your everyday life - backed and 5 stars.

CBK

Robert Grossmith wrote 956 days ago

Thanks for the comments on the book, which I'll take on board. I wish you'd read more than the first day though -- the consensus is that it gets better with each chapter. Glad you like the Norwich location too. It happens to be where I live but you're right, it is under-represented in fiction (and Norfolk's always good for a few cheap laughs). Jeeves & Wooster: hadn't thought of that but, yes, I can see it. But perhaps more like Withnail & I.

iandsmith wrote 956 days ago

Congratulations on Wednesday one to watch. It’s always a good choice, and this one is no exception.

So here’s my bit: I know it’s New Years Day, but hangovers in novels? It’s great. I have no problems with hangovers, but I’ve seen three hangovers this week on authonomy. There must be new ways to say the same thing: they overdosed on something suspect from the garden centre perhaps. Maybe they stagger out on New Years Day, and are suddenly struck by that disease that turns your bones to biscuit.

Anyway, getting over the hangover as a way of emphasizing that they’re fun characters, I think Jerome goes into the drunken philosophy far too quickly, for too long, and too coherently to be convincing.

It’s set in Norwich. Fantastic. I looked it up. I maybe wrong, but Ketts Hill, Tombland. Got to be. That’s very interesting. Not London? Not Oxford? Not Cambridge? Not Devon? Excellent. Norwich is a refreshing location for a novel on authonomy.

In fact, Dave and Jerome are very interesting indeed. Despite being drunk, they don’t swear, they get away with fondling women in the street so they can’t be working class or black. They seem to be trying very hard to be straight, and Dave even says, “Maybe they thought I was Jerome’s gay best friend.” They’re likeable, nearly foppish. At one point I thought of Wooster and Jeeves, and imagined it might be Oxford (Magdelen Street) or Cambridge. But no, it’s Norfolk, and that’s good, and I’m not onto January 2nd yet. Maybe they need college scarves, wobbly bicycles. I will Watchlist, and keep an eye on developments. Very good.

belia wrote 957 days ago

Original, knowledgable, clever, funny, irresistible... Backed and starred.

All the best, and honestly hoping to see it in print.

Evangeline (belia)

xavant wrote 1003 days ago

At last I've come across a piece of fiction on this site that isn't escapist but that engages instead with the everyday in a thought-provoking, intelligent and witty narrative - and that's also impeccably written. In the three chapters I've read you've managed to portray the narrator's philosophical explorations in a readable, easily assimilable way. You've done this of course by admirably concrete applications of the different systems, rooted in laddish reality. The diary form is well chosen, too, since it creates an intimate narrative voice that draws in readers who might otherwise find the subject of a wide-ranging philosophical investigation - even in the jokey approach you've employed - a little daunting. When I say the writing is impeccable, I mean of course that it is, unusually here, technically flawless and is also a consistently well maintained fusion of the demotic and the intellectual.
I'm not sure how well this would sell, but I'd hope there's enough of an intelligent readership out there to make it commercially viable on a modest scale. Here it's unjust that it's found a place on only seven bookshelves. I'm making that eight and I'm also six-starring it. Good luck with it.
Xavant
That Certain Feeling

Steve Kata wrote 1016 days ago

Your book is very well written. Only a few typos I'm sure you'll fix in the editorial process. I like your writing style and the diary format makes the read move along quickly. I've had a lifelong interest in philosophy (and humor) myself, so I'm interested in seeing where you go with this. I've starred and watched it. I wouldn't mind at all if you checked out my 'Renouncing the Future.' You might find it fun

Best,
Steve

Chris Brown wrote 1208 days ago

Over the last few years, I've started reading many books on here, but I've only got past chapter 1 on a minimal number of occasions, It took me a while to warm to your main guy, but by mid february, I sure have and the general idea is brilliant - I want to keep reading just to see what you'll do with the next philosophical bent. And your MC gets more believable as time goes on. In ch1, you can't quite work out why he'd be interested in phillosophy and it all looks like a plot device but after that, it's all very natural and one starts to strongly empathise. If you rework ch 1 a little to make it more believable, I think I might actually pay money...

Roman N Marek wrote 1224 days ago

This is a lovely and amusing idea. It brings to mind that long line of diary-writing duffers who have gone before: Pooter, Adrian Mole, Simon Crisp and (my personal favourite) Darren Tackle. (You’re not by an chance a descendant of George or Weedon, are you?? Or does everyone ask you that?) Having said that, they are all hard acts to follow and, for me, the early chapters don’t quite make it. I wondered whether they are strong enough to hook the general reader. They’re still an interesting read, but the incidents are only sporadically amusing (containing some lovely ideas and nice lines, mind). However, come Chapter 5, with the pain-control episode and the ‘bizarre ironing accident’, and it all takes off. This part was really funny, and after that I found myself sitting back and enjoying the book more and more. Perhaps, until that point, the MC hadn’t been foolish or Pooterish enough. But here he is shown to be a right idiot – which is funny. And from that point on, I loved it. Now I’m puzzled why I didn’t like the first four chapters so much. Maybe I was just having a bad day(!). Let’s see if anyone else has the same impression, or the same bad day. I’m glad I persevered beyond Chapter 4 as the rest of it has put a smile on my face!

Ray007 wrote 1229 days ago

Wow! There are not many books (hardly any in fact) which make me laugh out loud, but this one has on many occasions. Can't wait to read the rest. The fact that it is thought-provoking, sensitively crafted, very well-written, and manages to convey complex ideas ('philosophies') in such a natural and engaging narrative way is all the more to its credit. I generally find books either slop or onerously hard-going. For me, Robert Grossmith hits just the right spot: : A funny, intelligent, and most enjoyable read. In a word - classy.

Ray007 wrote 1229 days ago

Wow! There are not many books (hardly any in fact) which make me laugh out loud, but this one has on many occasions. Can't wait to read the rest. The fact that it is thought-provoking, sensitively crafted, very well-written, and manages to convey complex ideas ('philosophies') in such a natural and engaging narrative way is all the more to its credit. I generally find books either slop or onerously hard-going. For me, Robert Grossmith hits just the right spot: : A funny, intelligent, and most enjoyable read. Classy!

Tim Andrewartha wrote 1230 days ago

I have now enjoyed reading to the end of chapter 3. It's a good introduction to different kinds of philosophy as well as being entertaining fiction. The Monday lunch time disco is most amusing. In chapter 2 it says: "Did nothing rest of the day." I thought this should be "Did nothing for the rest of the day." Tim

lindajabo wrote 1230 days ago

Love it and it keeps getting better!

SusieGulick wrote 1231 days ago

Dear Robert, I love that you tell in your pitch, that Dave is having a different philosophical life each month & your books is his keeping a diary of his experiences in it :) - what a wonderful idea. :) I didn't even know that there were that many different philosophies, even. :) "Love is a serious mental disease" made me laugh at Plato's quote. "Moon Goddess" was good :) - if I were he, I would have chanced it with his family. :) "Fortune is like a woman" was pretty bad , but I don't know if being hung by his hands at his back was a good punishment for all of his evil :( - must have really happened, so I'm glad I wasn't him :) - I laughed at the "manipulating others" goal. :( I learned so much in your book, you wouldn't believe. :) I have read, commented on, & put your book on my watchlist to read & to at least 24 hour back when space opens on my bookshelf. :) I have also gold ******-rated your book :) - could you please ****** & back my memoirs/testimony book, in return? :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart. :) Love, Susie :) p.s. every ******-ing & at least 24 hour backing moves our book up on authonomy lists :) - click on author's name, scroll down on their profile page, click on their book cover or title :) - & you are on your way :)
None of this comment is copy/pasted & is written my best from my heart. :)

piabjo wrote 1231 days ago

My rating is 5 star! Hope more will read it!
Björk

piabjo wrote 1231 days ago

Great Book!
Have read all of it when does the next chapter arrive?
PB

Robert Grossmith wrote 1231 days ago

Thanks for the compliments, Tim -- and the typo! Hope you read on.

This is brilliant. I read the first chapter and I really enjoyed it. It's a great idea, witty and well written. It's easy to feel sympathy for the MC and to follow his thoughts. The dialogue is natural too. I spotted one typo. "I thought he was gong to say." According determinism then it was already decided that I would stumble on this amusing book and happily back it. I will return to read more at some point.
Tim
VITALITY

Tim Andrewartha wrote 1231 days ago

This is brilliant. I read the first chapter and I really enjoyed it. It's a great idea, witty and well written. It's easy to feel sympathy for the MC and to follow his thoughts. The dialogue is natural too. I spotted one typo. "I thought he was gong to say." According determinism then it was already decided that I would stumble on this amusing book and happily back it. I will return to read more at some point.
Tim
VITALITY

SusieGulick wrote 1231 days ago

:) I will comment after I've read your book - read & commented on 9 hours later :)

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