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The Book of Dave: A Novel by Will Self

The Book of Dave: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Will Self (Author)

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8852414,977 (3.34)32
Title:The Book of Dave: A Novel
Authors:Will Self (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury USA (2006), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Collections:Loaned from Library

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The Book of Dave: a revelation of the recent past and the distant future by Will Self (2006)


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"The past has become our future and in the future lie all our yesterdays."

The Book of Dave the author ponders what would happen if in 500 years from now, English society was shaped by the rantings of a 21st-century London taxi driver. The book is therefore told in two distinct parts with one being the present and the other being the distant future.

Dave Rudman is a brutish lout who when other went on to university decided to follow in the family footsteps and become a London black cab driver privately cursing his fares and virtually everyone else, particularly blacks, Jews and Arabs. Dave is not handsome either yet one day is invited upstairs by one of his fares, a beautiful woman to have sex. Seven months later, a heavily pregnant Michelle turns up on Dave's doorstep and tells him that he is the father of her unborn child. Dave decides to do the decent thing and marries her.

The marriage unsurprisingly is a disaster interspersed with many verbal and physical battles leading Dave in his frustration to also becoming abusive towards their young son. Dave and Michelle divorce and Dave fights for but is refused partial custody of his son after he attacks his ex-wife and is hit with a restraining order. Dave ultimately has something of a breakdown and is hospitalized. In one of his more lucid moments he decides to write a book for his son telling him who is to blame for his misfortune and is heavily influenced both by his limited experience with women. He has his book printed onto metal plates and buries it in Michelle's garden in the hope that his son will unearth it sometime in the future thus learning what sort of man is father was.

Several hundred years later an apocalyptic flood has destroyed Britain and Dave's book has become taken as gospel leading to the creation a harsh, crude and tyrannical society. In his book Dave decrees that men and women should live separately, except when mating, with children spending exactly half a week with each parent. His followers speak their own language, Arpee, a variant of English that reflects Dave’s own preoccupations, priests are called “Drivers,” souls are called “fares." Anything holy is referred to as “dävine,” anything evil is “chellish” (from Michelle). The future portion of the book revolves around a son trying to find out about his father who had been hauled away by the "Drivers".

This is my first Self book that I've read and I must admit that I initially struggled with the futuristic language element. So much so that I contemplated giving up on it. However, once I got a feel for it and did not have to keep referring to the partial dictionary at the back I found the whole tale rather enjoyable if totally unbelievable. An interesting diversion. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jun 22, 2016 |
This was a complex and gripping book about family, madness, love and religion, with a new vocabulary to get used to from the beginning. At first, I wasn't sure I liked the book, but the story soon caught my interest and I wanted to learn more about Dave and the future inhabitants of Ham. ( )
  krin5292 | Feb 27, 2015 |
  ngunity | Nov 23, 2014 |
Like David Mitchell in Cloud Atlas, Will Self has Russell Hoban's (shorter and in some ways more compelling) Riddley Walker to thank for the idea of expressing a regressive dystopian future in a kind of wacked phonetic dialect. Whether that's a good game or a bad one, I leave to others--he does it rigorously and creatively at least. And he also succeeds in creating his own vivid picture of a post-apoco-diluvian Britain. I'm sure the social satire in the contemporary sections is deft too, but I didn't care enough to spend as much time there. I did become more engaged with the narrative (at least the future sections) than I'd thought I would from its unpromising description, which made it sound too much like a one-trick book. It's still not going on my Favorite Speculative Fiction shelf, but it gets an honorable mention. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Self writes geography and landscape like Willa Cather on mescaline. Part ethnography of post-apolcalyptic England, part fantasy, part spoof of religion, this is excellent. Self carries the Ballardian hyperimaginitive vision like a torch... been seeking out his work ever since--short stories as well as "Psychogeography" w/ Ralph Steadman ( )
  Cedric_Rose | Aug 20, 2013 |
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I like to think how easily Nature will absorb London as she absorbed the mastodon, setting her spiders to spin the winding sheet and her worms to fill the graves, and her grass to cover it pitifully up, adding flowers - as an unknown hand added them to the grave of Nero. Edward Thomas, The South Country.
For Luther and with thanks to Harry Harris and Nick Papadimitriou
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Carl Devush, spindle-shanked, bleach blond, lampburnt, twelve years old, kicked up bluff puffs of sand with his bare feet as he scampered along the path from the manor.
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'The Book of Dave' is based around the rants of Dave Rudman - a disgruntled East End taxi driver - who writes his woes down and buries them, only to have them discovered 500 years later and used as the sacred text for a religion that has taken hold in the flooded remnants of London.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141014547, 0241954606

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