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Book Of Dave, The: A Revelation Of The Recent Past And The Distant Future

by Will Self
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publishing date: 30/10/2007
  • Language: Français
  • ISBN-13: 9781596913844
  • ISBN: 1596913843

Synopsis

When East End cabdriver Dave Rudman’s wife takes from him his only son, Dave pens a gripping text—a compilation about everything from the environment, Arabs, and American tourists to sex, Prozac, and cabby lore—that captures all of his frustrations and anxieties about his contemporary world. Dave buries the book in his ex-wife’s Hampstead backyard, intending it for his son, Carl, when he comes of age.
 
Five hundred years later, Dave’s book is found by the inhabitants of Ham, a primitive archipelago in post-apocalyptic London, where it becomes a sacred text of biblical proportions and the template for a new civilization. Only one islander, Symum, remains incredulous. But, after he is imprisoned for heresy, his son Carl must journey through the Forbidden Zone and into the terrifying heart of New London to find the only thing that will reveal the truth once and for all: a second Book of Dave that repudiates the first.
 
The Book of Dave is a profound meditation upon the nature of religion and a caustic satire of contemporary life.
Will Self is the acclaimed author of such books as The Quantity Theory of Insanity, Great Apes, and How the Dead Live. He won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Book of the Year. Will Self lives in London.
When cabdriver Dave Rudman’s wife of five years deserts him for another man, taking their only child with her, he is thrown into a tailspin of doubt and discontent. Fearing his son will never know his father, Dave pens a gripping text—part memoir, part deranged philosophical treatise, and part handbook of “the Knowledge” learned by all London cab drivers. Meant for the boy when he comes of age, the book captures the frustration and anxiety of modern life. Five hundred years later, the Book of Dave is discovered by the inhabitants on the island of Ham, where it becomes a sacred text of biblical proportion, and its author is revered as a mighty prophet.
"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
 
"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

"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 the survivors 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."—The 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

“This searing satire maps the unraveling of London cabbie Dave Rudman's life—and the resulting Book of Dave he prints on metal pages and buries in his former backyard after his ex-wife cuts off visitations with his son. Meanwhile, sometime in the twenty-sixth century or beyond (dating of the period is pegged to ‘the purported discovery of The Book of Dave’), England has entered a second Dark Age; the country, now called Ing, is broken apart by rising seas and spiritually bankrupted by the twisted teachings of Dave, which mix mad misogynistic dictates with the legendary knowledge of London streets (‘the runs and the points’) that the city's cabdrivers must internalize. On the former heights of Hampstead, now known as the isle of Ham, villagers live side by side with the gentle motos—walruslike creatures who talk like lisping human children, products of twenty-first-century genetic engineering. As present-day Rudman slowly reclaims his life, the future sons of Ham seek out Dave's rumored second book—the one recanting his earlier ravings and giving mummies and daddies permission to love each other again. But as Dave's ex prophetically muses, ‘everyday life was made up of a series of small botched actions, which, although instantly forgotten, nonetheless ruined everything.’ This is as rousing an indictment of organized religion—and especially fundamentalism—as readers are likely to encounter in the post-9/11 canon.”—Frank Sennett, Booklist (starred review)
 
“Self, the provocative British raconteur who used the Tibetan Book of the Dead to map London is taking another literary shot across his home city's bow. In his gleaming new puzzlebook, Self creates a dystopian future London, ruled by a cynosure of priests, lawyers and the monarchy. He invents Arpee, the musical language they speak that is based on a sacred text—The Book of Dave—which also serves, satirically, as the society's moral and legal foundation. And who is this deity named Dave? An embittered London cabbie from the distant past—the year 2000. As the book opens, the kingdom of Ingerland is ruled by the elite and ruthless PCO. (Self is riffing on the Public Carriage Office, London's transit authority.) People live according to The Book of Dave, which was recovered after a great flood wiped out London in the MadeinChina era. Flashing back more than 500 years, cabbie Dave Rudman types out his idiosyncratic, misogynist, bile-tinged fantasies while in a fit of antidepressant-induced psychosis and battlin

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  • Gives plagiarism a good name!
    From Amazon

    Although clearly inspired by the Russel Hoban book "Riddley Walker", my initial reservations soon turned to admiration, "The Book of Dave: A Novel" is excellent fun and especially good for someone like myself who spent 23 years living in London. Also makes me think of the Monty Python film "Life of Brian" were Brian is mistaken for Jesus. "He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!" Highly recommended!

  • one of the best books i read last year
    From Amazon

    i read a positive review of this book months ago and picked it up. but when i started reading it on my last silent retreat, i had no idea what to expect, and merely chose it because i like to start those retreats with something story-driven and fictional, as a detox. what i didn't expect was a long (475 pages) and challenging read that blew me away in both its creativity and it's allegory nature. more on what it's an allegory of in a moment. first, a description. the book of dave takes place in two times: current day london, and an extremely distant future london. we don't know the actual date of how far in the future the future-scenes are, as the calendar system resets with the discovery of "the book of dave" at some point in the future, and those future-scenes takes place about 500 years after that point. in the current time, dave rudman is a bitter london cabbie, working through an ugly divorce and custody issues surrounding his son. his obsession with "the knowledge" (the massive and perfect memory of all streets cab drivers have to have in london) informs just about everything in this life. after things take a decidedly bad turn for him (and, fueled by anti-depressant meds), dave writes a book -- a missive about what's wrong with society and the rules that should govern everyone. this book he writes starts with the "runs and points" of "the knowledge", and shifts into a diatribe about the inability of men and women (mommies and daddies) to live together. dave has this tome printed as a one-off book, on metal plates (for indestructability), and burries it in the backyard of the home where his estranged wife and son are living. eventually, dave gets some things figured out in life, finds love and peace, and after discovering that his hidden book is irretrievable (due to a new concrete deck built over the spot), writes a second book as a personal cathartic exercise, overturning much of what he wrote in the first book. dave's story is really a beautiful story of redemption. in the future time, a catastrophic world-wide episode of some sort (some allusions to polar ice-caps melting) has wiped out most of the world with noah-like effect. all technology as we know it is gone (and forgotten). things seem to be as they would have been in, say, the 1500s (or so). oh, and the geography of southern england has completely changed. most of the future-story takes place on a small island off the coast of england where a primitive clan of families live a simple isolated life, under the burden of "daviantity", the hard-core state religion that took hold of all of england in the wake of the discovery of the book of dave. this religion is mostly incomprehensible in it's meaning, but the rules are all very clear: particularly the rules about the complete seperation of men and women, with children spending half the week in "daddy time" and half the week in "mommy time". the language of this time is part of what makes this book a challenging read: it's a phonetically-spelled goulash of extreme cockney, mixed in with text-message shorthand, and a whole new set of slang vocabulary that only starts to make sense as the book unfolds (though there is a glossary in the back of the book to unpack some words). at first, i found myself reading some of this dialogue with only partial understanding of what i was reading (even regular words). but i got used to it, and really got a kick out of it. many of the slang words are cab-driving-related (for instance, the only acceptable greeting upon meeting someone -- used when we would say "hi", or "how are you?" -- is "ware to, guv?". and the only acceptable response, for followers of davianity is, "t' nu london"). we follow two generations in this future time, over about 30 years, or so. the chief protagonist is a boy without a father. he doesn't know much about his father, but eventually learns that his father was declared a heretic for claiming to have found a second book written by dave that overturns much of davianity (i'll not go much further there, as i don't want to spoil anything). eventually, the boy, along with a heretically-leaning tutor, discovers some truth about the second book and his father, and embarks on an epic journey to new london (still a major city, but more like what london would have been like in the 16th or 17th century) to find truth, escape the island, and search out the rest of his father's story. now: the author clearly intended the book as commentary on a whole bunch of things, not least of which is the role of religion in society. and, clearly, the author does not have a positive view of the church or religion. this is postmodern commentary, though, as the heroes of the story still have ardent and passionate faith (in dave, no less!), but not in the structures and strictures of the religion set up to encase it, or the forceable control this religious system has over all people (in england, davianity hasn't reached the rest of the world), all practices, all life. on one hand, that's the commentary in a nutshell. at first, it struck me as an allegory (whether the author indended this or not) of the law and grace, of an old testament system and the threat of a new testament system - the threat of jesus, if you will. but I found myself seeing another level: an allegory of the current church in america (or, to be fair, around the world), and the church's response to the "threat" of the emerging church. over and over I found myself drawing parallels and connecting dots. certainly, the author can't have intended this: but I found so much resonance at this level. a fascinating book, at face value, and at these "other" story levels.

  • WARE2GUV!
    From Amazon

    THE BOOK OF DAVE took me by surprise! I adored the book and found the story line clever...allegorical? yes, adventurous? yes, logical, of course! No need to echo the other reviews as far as the plot and story line go, it's funny and well executed. I put myself through college driving a taxicab in Manhattan...ever since then, I've been fascinated by cabbies all over the world. I worked for a few UK firms so I got to see "knowledge boys" first hand as they learned their trade. The evolution of that "cabbie speak" and obscure "cabbie knowledge" were enough to keep me madly reading on and on. And the post-apocalyptic touches were brilliant...no nukes here, rather a slow inundation of the UK by rising water, leaving Hampstead as a lonely little island on the outskirts of nowhere. Highly recommended!

  • Dave's a dark star
    From Amazon

    The book of Dave is an entertaining and demanding work that amuses and enlightens at the same time. The cast of characters, including Dave and the post apocalyptic Dave followers are an interesting study into the dark nature of man and the survival of hope and faith. Its a great book and Will Self is now one of my favourite authors.

  • The future is now
    From Amazon

    This is a richly, intricately, thoroughly well-thought through post-apocalyptic fantasy about an unimaginably distant future in which we and all our works either have been forgotten or are misinterpreted in bizarre and sometimes very funny ways. In this world a tyrannical religion runs amok to the benefit of the political power structure. Sound familiar? The book follows two storylines, that of present-day Dave Rudman, the unknowing inventor of said religion, an angry, depressive, borderline psychotic London cabbie who writes and buries the Book of Dave for the son he is no longer allowed to see, or, failing that, as a gift to the future and revenge on all humanity. He has no idea. The second storyline follows future people trapped in the grim social structure he has imagined. Caveats: almost all the dialogue in the latter storyline is carried on in a futurespeak that is part text messaging abbreviation and part Cockney slang. This is very difficult, especially for Americans, but not impossible. A lifetime of PBS helps. So does the glossary provided, though not enough. If there's one thing I really did not like, it's that the second storyline does not end. Self sets up a tremendous cliffhanger that can go either way. One turns the page in breathless anticipation, to discover there's nothing more. Now, other novels I have read that use this device each contains the clues necessary for one to figure the thing out for oneself. This is even rather satisfying when, late at night on the verge of falling asleep, one finally solves the puzzle. In this case, the clues don't seem to exist. Either I'm not as smart as I thought (always possible), or the failure of imagination is the author's. I can see how either of the obvious resolutions might be vaguely unsatisfactory, but that's one reason we read the works of people cleverer than ourselves, to be astonished. Perhaps, in this case, the thing's just a cheat.

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