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Home » Books » Fiction & Literature » Literary Collections

The Book of Dave

By Will Self

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Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 March 2007
The Book of Dave is Booker-shortlisted author Will Self's dazzling sixth novel What if a demented London cabbie called Dave Rudman wrote a book to his estranged son to give him some fatherly advice? What if that book was buried in Hampstead and hundreds of years later, when rising sea levels have put London underwater, spawned a religion? What if one man decided to question life according to Dave? And what if Dave had indeed made a mistake?Shuttling between the recent past and a far-off future where England is terribly altered, The Book of Dave is a strange and troubling mirror held up to our times: disturbing, satirizing and vilifying who and what we think we are. At once a meditation upon the nature of received religion, a love story, a caustic satire of contemporary urban life and a historical detective story set in the far future - this compulsive novel will be enjoyed by readers everywhere, including fans of Martin Amis and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange.'Vivid, visceral and breathtakingly ambitious, this is Self's best yet' GQ'Mindboggling ... darkly hilarious ... A fascinating book' Evening StandardWill Self is the author of nine novels including Cock and Bull; My Idea of Fun; Great Apes; How the Dead Live; Dorian, an Imitation; The Book of Dave; The Butt; Walking to Hollywood and Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has written five collections of shorter fiction and three novellas: The Quantity Theory of Insanity; Grey Area; License to Hug; The Sweet Smell of Psychosis; Design Faults in the Volvo 760 Turbo; Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys; Dr. Mukti and Other Tales of Woe and Liver: A Fictional Organ with a Surface Anatomy of Four Lobes. Self has also compiled a number of nonfiction works, including The Undivided Self: Selected Stories; Junk Mail; Perfidious Man; Sore Sites; Feeding Frenzy; Psychogeography; Psycho Too and The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Prawn Cracker.

About the Author

Will Self has earned his reputation through a body of innovative work: there's nobody quite like him writing today. He is the author of four previous novels, four collections of short stories, three novellas and four non-fiction works. As a journalist he has contributed to a plethora of publications over the years; he is also a regular broadcaster on television and radio. He lives in London with his wife and four children.

Reviews

"Self seamlessly toggles between the two time periods, giving equal depth to frustrated, sympathetic Dave and to the inhabitants of the post-apolcalyptic future. The bastardized Cockney language of 523 A.D. (anno Dave), while sometimes difficult to understand, is one of the book's most puzzling yet satisfying joys. B+."--Gilbert Cruz, "Entertainment Weekly" "The first 90 pages of this book read like a cross between "Jabberwocky" and "A Clockwork Orange." It's a devilishly catchy argot and once readers sink into it, they will find themselves wondering if the characters are traveling norf or souf... .Like Martin Amis, with whom he's often compared, Self marries his verbal acrobatics to social critique, gamely taking on corporate culture, family law, London urban sprawl, religion, racial division and the received wisdom of women's magazines and the pub. ...You're left with the intoxication of Self's wordplay and the clarity of his visions."--Regina Marler, "Los Angeles Times""" "A richer, more engaging enterprise... Whose plot is sturdy enough to support its voluptuous prose. Most significantly, the author has worked hard to increase his emotional repertoire from a three-chord punk chorus of rage, contempt and despair to a more expansive range of sensibility." - Donna Rifkind, "Washington Post" "Fans of Self's previous edgy satires won't be disappointed with The Book of Dave, his latest riff on the strange complexities of the modern world. Balancing stories of pained intimacies between fathers and sons, it also brilliantly caricatures the fervor of literal-minded religious fundamentalism... Blisteringly astute." - Geoffrey Bateman, "Rocky Mountain News""Remarkable... Among his most ambitious and imaginative...The Book of Dave seems to be about the crippling nihilism of a world without transcendent meaning and the tensions and contradictions of the religious personality." - Daniel Sullivan, "Weekly Standard""" "The apocalypse that created the world in Self's new novel somehow incinerated all the Shakespeare and the Tolstoy and the Bible, leaving only the angry scrawlings of a divorced London cabdriver named Dave upon which to build a new culture. Dave's ruined life is worshipped and codified-bitterness as religion. Men and women live apart. Children's weeks are divided into mummytime and daddytime, and young women are known as Opares. The Book of Dave can be hard going. The language Self invents takes off from bangers-and-mash quaintness into near incomprehensibility, with jarring phonetic spellings and a whole goofball nomenclature. The Milky Way is the dashboard; the sun is the foglamp... It sounds as though it could devolve into inanity (in fact, the religion is known as Davinanity), but Self somehow breathes life into it. It's grim and compelling-a world to get lost in. That is, if we're not lost already. BUY IT." - "New York Magazine" "In this tale of an embittered taxi-driver whose psychotic rantings become the creed of a blighted people hundreds of years after his death, Self unleashes his apparently boundless misanthropy on modern London, the origins of religion, and the postapocalyptic future. Dave Rudman, driven mad by divorce and ill-prescribed antidepressants, thinks he is God and writes a vitriolic screed, which he has printed on metal plates and buries in a garden. Discovered by thesurvivors of a catastrophic flood and adopted as a gospel, it demands the complete separation of mothers and fathers (children to spend exactly half the week with each). Switching between a narrative of Dave's unlucky life and the phonetically rendered "Mokni" speech of his wretched followers, Self achieves an elaborate vision of vicious superstition and hopeless struggle, but his insights never quite repay the effort of engaging with his stylistic pyrotechnics." - "New Yorker" "In The Book of Dave, his satiric masterpiece thus far, Self proves again that with talent like his, it's never the what, but the how... Though his invention (often via inversion) of a future language owes an obvious debt to Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, and Orwell, Self spins his own brilliantly macaronic web between Now and Later... Self's inventiveness and control are dazzling... Self's novel achieves depth not by skewering organized religion, though it does so quite adroitly, but by exploring the many grids of modern despair, how we find ourselves cast adrift, and how, much like Dave, whose loneliness is unabated by the 'hateful company of his own kind, ' we fester unseen... A gripping, funny, and pleasurably intricate novel." - Sam Lipsyte, "Bookforum""" "Self satires the strange complexities of the modern world by juxtaposing two stories: the first set in London roughly 500 years in the future and the second involving a modern-day cab driver. The cab driver's written rants about an ex-wife, uncovered in the future London, provide the moral, legal and cultural foundation of the new world order in this blisteringly astute novel." -"Rocky Mountain News"

EAN: 9780141014548
ISBN: 0141014547
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 3 centimetres (0.32 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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In my opinion, Will Self’s best book to date. The Book of Dave is both tragic and moving, a clever mediation on the way that no event in life is truly random but always influenced, if only barely, but what has come before. It’s also a satire of religion, and it’s interesting to reflect on the parallels between the spread and rise of Christianity, and the books fictional religion based on the 500+ year old ramblings on a mentally unstable London cabbie. The England of the future if also vividly, if terrifyingly, rendered. Highly recommended.

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