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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Read But Worth It
Will Self is an author that is a bit hit and miss with people, people either love his quirky tales and devour him or people are put off by the fact that he can come across as being too clever or pompous he can also be seen as being dark and this book is quite bleak, well very bleak, but he is an author that if you work at reading you will get so much out of. `The Book of...
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by Simon Savidge Reads

versus
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work - very amusing idea, but a difficult read.
Will Self is clearly highly intelligent and the premise for this book is both amusing and clever. Effectively, a cab driver, Dave, who is going through a tough time in his personal life, leaves a book that is discovered many years into the future when it is revered as some religeous iconographic document that leads to a race of "believers". It clearly has great comic...
Published on 18 July 2009 by Ripple


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Read But Worth It, 30 Jan 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
Will Self is an author that is a bit hit and miss with people, people either love his quirky tales and devour him or people are put off by the fact that he can come across as being too clever or pompous he can also be seen as being dark and this book is quite bleak, well very bleak, but he is an author that if you work at reading you will get so much out of. `The Book of Dave' is set in the recent past and the distant future. The recent past tells the tale of Dave Rudman a London taxi driver and the lead up to his marriage and then onto its break up, a break up that affects him so much he writes a book to his estranged son. A book that is discovered in the distant future and spawned a major religion, in fact everyone lives by `The Book of Dave' or else. Self uses this present to show us just what could happen in the future, and it's not the prettiest of pictures.

This is by no means a quick or easy read. Firstly Dave is not instantly a hero or a likeable chap, he is normal, extremely flawed and at first I just thought he was a waste of space, my opinion did change as his character did. The alternating chapters between the future and the recent past are made more complicated by two things, firstly is the fact that they are not in chronological order, secondly you need to learn some Mokni. Self has done something which I was originally annoyed by slightly, the lazy reader in me, and then very impressed by... he has created his own future version of cockney based not on rhyming slang but on phonetics. I should add that there is a glossary in the back of the book that helps you, though a note in the front to tell you that would be helpful as I know that lots of people put the book down after finding the Mokni a challenge and not knowing the glossary is there.

The fact that it's not in chronological order is slightly confusing but many writers use this style in order that by the end everything slots into place and with this book it does, and it has some very clever twists. My only slight problem was all the same names in the distant future, I got totally confused a few times, however with perseverance I was fine in the end. People will either love this book or they will hate it, it's not for everyone. However if you persevere it's a very clever story from a very clever author and one that I would recommend as being worth the effort.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, 2 Mar 2007
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
I suspect this is not a book for the masses.

As other reviewers have noted, the novel does have two strands narrated across alternating chapters - one set in the very recent past following Dave the Cabbie and one in the far future, where Dave the Cabbie's demented ramblings have sparked off a new world religion.

I suspect that if one had the patience, there is a work of genius bursting to get out. The references from the future turn up later in the text as deriving from the past. Read across is not always obvious, and one comes to accept eccentricities from the future before realising how far out of context they have become from references in the present.

The phonetically rendered vernacular is irritating, although I rather liked cloakyfings. But as with other texts written in vernacular, the use of it becomes both less frequent and less irritating as the novel progresses. And underneath it all is a brilliantly detailed vision of a future dystopian society.

The plots in the two stories are set out in non-linear style and each has a cast of similarly named characters, makign it quite difficult to follow. However, each plot is engaging in its own way. And whislt the Dave the Taximan story is the most gripping, the far future story is more poignant because of its finality. The Dave the Taximan story offers a rationale for the later events, but one knows, ultimately, where the story will end up. The downside of the interleaved narratives, of course, is that the penultimate chapter has to reach a crescendo, and then the last chapter has to work up to a second one when you really feel as though the story's finished.

The characters themselves are less well drawn in the future narrative than the complex characters of the recent past. Dave the Cabbie is not the racist, mysoginist bigot portrayed in the blurb. In fact, he is repelled by his colleagues who are that way inclined. He is caring and sensitive, and that is probably his downfall as he finds his life spinning out of control. This adds to the irony of Dave's book becoming a sacred text. There are wonderful cameos from the Skip Tracer and the Fighting Fathers (or whatever they called themselves).

Overall, this is a wonderful and funny satire on the nature of religion and personal destiny, along with some dazzlingly imaginative speculation of a far future revisitation of mediaeval values. It is heavy going, though, with dense plotting and lengthy detail. Worth it, though, and it deserves to get somewhere in the annual awards round.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work - very amusing idea, but a difficult read., 18 July 2009
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
Will Self is clearly highly intelligent and the premise for this book is both amusing and clever. Effectively, a cab driver, Dave, who is going through a tough time in his personal life, leaves a book that is discovered many years into the future when it is revered as some religeous iconographic document that leads to a race of "believers". It clearly has great comic potential and has an interesting view on the origins of belief and faith. The problem comes in the parts set in the future where the language is tough to follow. I was lucky enough to see the author give a reading of part of this book and in his voice it really was both funny and clever. But that's the problem - while it works aurally, visually it's such a slog that I found myself longing for the parts of the book set in the time of Dave. It's a shame because the idea is thought provoking and some aspects of the way Dave's biggoted views are taken in the future world are both hilarious and scary. I normally favour books over any other medium - but in this case if you find it on an audiobook (I don't know if one exists) then it would be worth investigating. I found the book itself to be verging on pretentious though due to the complexity of the language.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Dave - Contrived and Unsatisfying, 4 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Book of Dave (Hardcover)
The way "The Book of Dave" was recommended to me, I expected a fictional comedy not a tragedy. And what a tragedy it was... written as the part biography of the present day tragic hero-cum-taxi driver, Dave Rudman, and the narrative of a future dystopian and much dispersed and unrecognisable Britain, the plot and characters are contrived to the extreme to heighten the element of dystopian fantasy on the one hand, and to create as much confusion and frustration in the reader on the other. While the plot understandably needs to flash back and fore between the present and future, it is doubtful that it needs to chunk and shuffle the sequential narrative of the present and the future as much as it does. While the glossary at the back of the book does help with some of the phonetic transcription and vagaries of a supposedly east London dialect, it does not explain every piece of quirky vocabulary, only adding to the reader's frustration. Elements of the plot and characters are left inadequately explored and explained: the existence of the motos on Ham? How did they come into being? Descended from what? When exactly did the world 'madeinchina' flood take place? What the hell happens to Carl and Bom when they walk over the bank to meet their fate?

A novel-ish novel, but too many twists and turns to make it truly enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Will Self book, 4 Nov 2009
By 
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
I've not read a Will Self book before, so didn't know what to expect. The Mokni gave me a little trouble, but, to be honest, deciphering it was the most entertaining part of the read. I finished it without realising there was a dictionary at the back of the book, so have little sympathy with those who say that use of terms like 'arpee' make the book impenetrable. I enjoyed Burgess' Clockwork Orange for much the same reasons.

Unfortunately I have to agree with other reviewers that the book simply drags in too many places, and some of the cross-references are a bit of a stretch (like the 'beastly man' comment. It occurred when he was trying to dig the book up, so if it wasn't transcribed onto the metal plates, how did it become part of the culture?).

Overall it is worth a read as a satire, but not one I'll be re-reading any time soon. It is simply too cumbersome a read to be truly enjoyable.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, dark and brilliant - but not my idea of fun., 29 May 2007
By 
qangela (Isle of Man) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
The Book of Dave looks at the logical conclusions of the rise in our society of acrimonious divorce, with the dice loaded against fathers in terms of both access and child support. Will Self presents the bleak, flawed life of Dave, a bigoted, occasionally violent London cabbie who is fighting to sustain access to his son. Dave, in an anti-depressant fuelled psychosis, writes and buries his own book of holy law, based on the Knowledge, his hatred of `mummies' and his longing for `the lost boy'. Self juxtaposes this with a grim post-apocalyptic vision of the future, where Dave's book has been unearthed and adopted as the new religion. Relationship breakdown, domestic violence against women and hatred and disenfranchisement between parents hasn't just become the norm, it's now the law.

The Book of Dave is as adventurous, inventive and socially-relevant as, say, Great Apes but it just doesn't have the laughs of Will Self's earlier fiction. His sense of the ridiculous that makes his earlier books so funny is present but is drowned by a relentlessly depressing story of cruelty, despair and failure which at times is hard for the reader to bear. Some readers might find the first sight of the dialogue off-putting as the majority of it is written phonetically but it's actually just Eastenders-style Cockney and is much more accessible than the narration in Anthony Burgess' brilliant A Clockwork Orange, for example.

It's been said before that people are either fans of Will Self's journalism or fans of his fiction. Personally, I'm in awe of his fiction. This particular example of it didn't make me laugh but it was as unnerving, intelligent and compelling as the best of his earlier work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Knowledge is necessary, 11 July 2012
By 
S. Perry "GG" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
Phew, Self doesn't half make you work for your entertainment.
I can see why so many people dropped off before the half way mark - the chapters in the AD (After Dave) periods are written in mockney which is frankly inpenetrable. As a mockney speaker myself I struggled with the way its presented, though you do get used to it. Also I found some of the terminology (Decaux, irony, budout and especially toyist) rather laboured, but others fun (foglamp, screenwash, the tarrifs and cloakyfings).

As the book progresses it gets easier (when 'arpee' is used more and the Mockney less). The plot moves a lot better after you reach the half way point and I went from: can I be arsed to carry on with it, to oh go on then, let's find out.

Whilst it's amusing and clever, knowing London well greatly helped for the parts that he's being particularly *clever* or tongue-in-cheek about London, you do have to know the place to appreciate it. For example when our characters arrive in Nu London and see the 'hilltop Manors of Millwall and Deptford...Bermondsey Hills' - readers with a living knowledge of London will crack a knowing smile. However, for People outside the capital, let alone outside the British Isles, I imagine it would be a struggle of a read. I also have got to the end of it and can work out the real names of Not, Cot, Wyc, Lut, Chi etc but cannot for the life of me get Bril. Any suggestions welcome.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 19 May 2007
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
It's one thing, for a writer, to think of a premise that would make an entertaining book, and quite another to be able to write it with a style and panache that suits the content. In "The Book of Dave", Will Self proves that he is more than capable of pulling both off at the same time.

In the novel, two stories are intertwined. One set in the recent past, and another set 500 years into the future. The first tale tells of Dave Rudman, a London cabbie, who is descending into a state of depression, madness & desparation after the breakup of his marriage, and a messy divorce cutting him off from his son. At the depths of his despair, Dave decides to write a book for his son, part fatherly advice, part delusional rant, in lieu of being able to see his boy.

In the future, after a disaster has flooded the world, the book that Dave wrote is a foundation for a whole religion, where Dave's personal beliefs are magnified, distorted and misinterpreted, and Dave himself is considered a Deity. In this future, a young boy Carl Denevush, embarks on a quest to find his heretic father, and to find the 'Second book'.

At first, "The Book of Dave" appears to be a challenging read. Reminiscent of 'Cloud Atlas', or 'A Clockwork Orange', the parts of the story set in the future are written in a 'Mockney' dialect, so conversations are distorted on paper. However, like the previously mentioned novels, once the reader relaxes into the rhythm and the style of the book, "The Book of Dave" is a rewarding and enjoyable read.

One of the strongest aspects of the book is Will Self's ability to create very real characters. Even minor players are fleshed out and believable, and the interplay is convincing. Dave's own character, is both repugnant and endearing at the same time. The backdrops of a gritty present day London, and the dystopian ruralized future are well-presented and beautifully written. Admittedly, it's not a 'page-turning rip-roaring rollercoaster of a read', but if you wanted that, you'd be reading Dan Brown.

Where the novel really succeeds is in the messages it pushes to the reader. The main question it poses is to consider our own religious ritual and belief system, and its origins. For example, would we ignore the Dead Sea Scrolls if they revealed something that would threaten to challenge the very foundations of christianity? More contemporary and accessable questions regarding religion, family, divorce & separation, and alienation are also handled with aplomb, and even with a little humour.

Regardless of what you may think about the author - Whether you just remember him from his brief stint on the comedy game show "Shooting Stars", or have dismissed his other publications, "The Book of Dave" is a very worthwhile novel that I'd recommend to anyone.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Painful, 18 Feb 2009
By 
This review is from: The Book of Dave: A Revelation of the Recent Past and the Distant Future (Paperback)
I found this book physically painful to read.
I've spoken to others who trudged on and actually finished the book who have said it was great, but i admit to only reading a few chapters before i threw it on the floor (and i am not prone to fits of agression).
It has some clever, interesting, thought provoking ideas but when something is such a chore to read it takes the pleasure out of it.
So good luck to anyone willing to give it a go, i hope you have better luck with it than me!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 26 May 2013
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This review is from: The Book of Dave (Hardcover)
Am now reading it second time round - find 'Mokni' so thoroughly entertaining - simply a brilliant read once you have worked it all out.

Is there a 'Book of Dave' fan club?
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