Jeff, One Lonely Guy, by Jeff Ragsdale, David Shields, and Michael Logan, has a simple premise. A man who desires the connection with others puts up a poster. Anyone who wishes to talk may give Jeff a call. Included at the bottom are tear off strips of said digits. Considering the location is New York, a few more calls come than intended. After a photo of poster hits the Internet, the concept takes off even higher.
Ragsdale and his co-authors come up with an idea to take the concept even further by putting the messages into a book form.
While the concept is a simple one, this is more of a short story collection rather than a typical novel. Sections are divided by topic, but the overall theme is what people say when they are given a chance to unleash on a complete stranger.
The clearly divided sections help, since the cohesion usually found in a novel is gone. While there is a central character, no plot exists. It’s merely an overview of what someone said when placing the call to Ragsdale. Names and locations of callers are at the top of each message, but no identifying details. A smart move on the part of the authors.
Interspersed among the call logs are Ragsdale’s own relationship memories with a girlfriend he broke up with. These are perhaps even more poignant than the actual phone conversations themselves. Raw with unvarnished truth, these tidbits provide glimpses into why someone would take the time to try and reach out to anybody who desires to be heard.
Readers should be able to find something which relates to their personal situation. The broad array of people who dial the number reflects general ideas. Who hasn’t been in a bad breakup with one person or another? Everyone has a family, but nobody is perfect. This leads to squabbles from time to time.
Whether one likes Jeff, One Lonely Guy or not is a matter of personal taste. Some will be delighted at how well Ragsdale appears to know them. Others may just throw the book across the room in disgust. In the case of the latter, one should probably attempt to finish reading the entire thing first.