Atlantic £12.99 from the Independent Bookshop : 0870 079 8897
How to Be a Better Person, By Seb Hunter
Sunday 26 April 2009
Seb Hunter decides – because he thinks he can get a funny book out of it, one suspects – to devote himself to charitable works for two years. He becomes a volunteer at the Kensington branch of the Oxfam shop, a picker-up of litter in Winchester, an entertainer for the old folk at the Thursday Club in Botley, a worker at a drop-in centre for the homeless in Staines, and a friend and campaigner on behalf of a refugee from the so-called Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most of the people Hunter works with seem to treat him with a distinct lack of appreciation, if not actual suspicion or contempt, and he gets as much comic mileage out of this as he is able. The blurb on the back of the book describes it as "wildly funny", but that may be a misprint of "mildly funny". It's true that there's no shortage of jokes but the humour feels strained. The constant stream of self-deprecating gags and facetious footnotes put one in mind of the brittle wisecracking of a nervous depressive.
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