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This is a review of the Timewaster Diaries by Robin Cooper.
I picked this up in a charity shop for 50p so was prepared for it to be a not very good read but I am pleased to report I was wrong. Lured in by the reviews that claimed Cooper is Adrian Mole in disguise, I thought I'd give it a go.
The diary begins in the New Year with Robin setting his new year's resolutions, which he revisits throughout the book. Although he's an annoying nerdy character, you can't help but like him.
He is unemployed at the start of his diary due to writing too many personal letters in work's time. (ref Cooper's earlier books) but he doesn't seem to bothered by this. Urged on by his wife Rita Robin seeks employment and lands a job working for a company that he never finds out what they actually do.
When not at work, Robin spends most of his time in his shed, sleeping on a bag of soft compost or inventing crazy things.
One worrying point of this book addressed something I've always wondered about. Why can't you boil eggs in a kettle? Robin finds that you can and he does, inventing a particular egg kettle along the way that no self respecting kettle maker would ever invest in.
Robin's main invention in the book is 'Aqua choc' chocolate and a drink in one go. The chocolate bar mainly makes people choke when they try it but this does not pertube the author one bit.
I won't say more as you might actually want to read this book and I'd hate to spoil it for you. It's an easy-read laugh a minute book that doesn't challenge the brain whatsoever but sometimes that's quite relaxing.
Quite an extraordinary book.
It is basically a diary of a year in the life of Robin Cooper.
It's full of absurd ideas for inventions, - such as a water-filled chocolate - and bizaare drawings.
I laughed out loud at some parts, and found the book generally amusing.
For the most part, I felt annoyed. It might have been brilliant if the diary was actually of a real person, but it wasn't.
It seemed to me like the book was using old, tired comedy cliches. For example, Cooper's wife, Rita, got ridiculously angry with Robin over the tiniest of things, and seemed to expect a lot more in the marriage than she gave herself. At one point she forced him to sleep in the shed for days, making him ill. I didn't find that funny, I found that irritating. If the genders were reversed, a lot of people would have found that very offensive and disturbing.
Also, the diary's writer keeps noting little "quirks" of his son that plainly add up to the fact he may be gay, but Robin appears to be none the wiser. Now, call me pedantic but this joke was done on Keeping Up Appearances fifteen years ago.
It's an alright book if you're bored but it's not one of the literary masterpieces.
I find reading just before I'm about to go to sleep helps me wind down from my day and generally makes sleep come a lot easier. Since I started my new job a couple of months ago sleep has been coming quite easily full stop but I decided it was time to get back into reading last week. In an attempt to save money I popped down to my local library and came home with a few different books, the most bizarre looking was "The Timewaster Diaries" by Robin Cooper.
Robin Cooper is actually Robin Popper who I'd never actually heard of before reading this book. He is better known apparantly for his contributions to the television series Peep Show of which he produced both the third and fourth series. He's also contributed to the BBC2 television show Look Around You which is one I'm not at all familiar with. Prior to writing this book he also released The Timewaster Letters and The Return of the Timewaster Letters.
His previous two novels showcase a series of letters written by him and their various replies. His aim seems to be to target businesses and to see how gullible they can really be with his absurd demands, requests and thoughts. These were published in the autumns of 2005 and 2006 respectfully and his latest offering in the form of The Timewaster Diaries" was published in July 2007 by Sphere. It's currently only available in hardback.
As the title would suggest the book is written in a diary format, with the months being seperated as chapters in a sense and an entry of varying length being inserted for the majority of days. These entries vary greatly in length, some are just a single line whereas others go on for a couple of pages depending what has happened to the author on that particular day. The whole book in total is 340 pages although several of these are blank to signify a new chapter.
As it's a diary the whole novel is written from a first person perspective and simply documents what has happened on that particular day. It's very much a Bridget Jones style of writing that seems to work quite well in this instance. The book follows Robin Cooper through the trials of finding a job, attempting to invent something that will make him famous and rich, keeping his wife happen with his constant slip ups and talking about the various people in his life.
" Started using a new toothpaste today. It's particularly minty. In fact, no sooner had my toothbrush entered my mouth, than I was overcome with a feeling of sheer invincibility. Such is the power of mint!"
"I haven't written in my diary for the past 7 days because... I couldn't find it! In fact, I'd completly forgotten where I'd hidden it!"
"A howling, icy wind all day. Started the day in two pairs of socks. Ended the day in three."
Firstly I'd like to say that I hadn't read either of his other books before selecting The Timewaster Diaries and I can honestly say that I'm going to do my best to get hold of them both now! It's not a pre-requisite to your understanding to have read the first two books by any means, there are several references to things that happened during them or things that resulted from them, but I didn't find that this took from my enjoyment or understanding of this one at all.
This novel is easy reading at its best, it's the sort of book that you could start to read and then pick up again at anytime; be it for five minutes or for an hour. I started reading this book on Monday night and had finished it by Saturday night - normally if I enjoy a book I'll race through it and I have done with this one. I must have read around fifty pages per night which is quite a lot for me so shows just how addictive I found it and how much I wanted to read more.
Although it's written in a Bridget Jones style and therefore I find it hard to not compare the two, it's not written in the same amount of detail. The average diary entry is about fifteen lines long and although you may feel that this would be a little brief I really felt I got to know Robin Cooper and that it was written in enough detail so as to make me feel part of his life. The book is frequented by diagrams and drawings of his inventions which also add to the textual information.
What I loved about this book is the range of ideas that come across and the naive approach of the author to many issues. For example, it's blatant that his son Michael is gay as he's currently putting on dancing shows in Australia with Simon although is jealous of Simon's relationship with Jeremy, however Robin blatantly misses this point and instead thinks of it as a really special friendship that is like an unbreakable bond. It's clear his wife knows the truth but he still can't see it!
There is nothing groundbreaking in this novel, it's clearly just written to be entertaining and to not really evoke any particular emotions in the reader. The only emotion I felt to be honest was enjoyment and I did laugh my way through it. If you're looking for a book that you can really get involved in with lots of underlying themes and truths running throughout then this isn't one for you. If you don't like things bordering on the side of ridiculous, it's also not for you!
Saying that, even I did feel a little irritation at times as I feel it's impossible for someone to be so deluded as to think that a kettle with an egg basket in for boiling eggs could really make him a millionaire - some of the inventions he came up with were absolutely bizarre and this did lead me to doubt the credibility of the book itself. However there is plenty of honest and satirical humour that make up for this and certainly had me giggling away to myself in front of the television at times.
There is plenty of satire that is mixed into this novel to relate it to the current world in which we live. For example his new job as an "Above the Line Resolutions Officer" at "General Incorporated Business Solutions" is a satirical notion of the world of business that currently exists. It's also strangely heart warming in a sense, Robin Cooper is arguably a good guy at heart with good intentions and this is what makes him so easily likeable to the reader.
So in conclusion would I recommend this? Yes I would. It's not deep on any level that you look at it and it isn't going to change your life as some books promise - in fact it's probably quite pointless. However I found it to be easy reading and above all fun, certainly worth a look in my book!
Amazon.co.uk - £5.99
Thanks for reading.