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3.7 out of 5 stars94
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 November 2010
I do find some of the reviews here puzzling, especially the comments regarding Mokni - surely it doesnt make the book THAT hard to understand? I do agree with one of the comments below - I too just love the word 'cloakyfings'. That has to be Dave's attempt at describing what his wife wears to go out in the evening - a wrap, a shawl, a pashmina? A, like, cloakyfing. The most unsettling aspect for me was the motos, but with a certain very grim comic aspect to them too.

A very unsettling, thought provoking book. For me it's not meant to be a 'funny' book - although there are funny aspects to it - it's a satire, on fatherhood, on religion, on dialects, and on perspective too - actions and opinions that are insignifcant at the time, can from a distant perspective take on massive cultural significance. Or something.

You won't forget this book quickly, so easily 4 stars on that basis alone.
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on 24 December 2008
I got a third of the way through this book and by then had realised that every other chapter was going to be written in an invented future language. Slow to decipher, tedious and an unrewarding excercise.
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on 21 June 2009
As a bit of a Will Self obsessive (owning about 9 of his books) this review was never going to be unbiased, but I think The Book of Dave may well be his masterpiece. Flitting anarchically between the bigoted, mentally unhinged thoughts of a London cab driver and a dystopian future where an entire religion has spawned out of a book he wrote, Will Self takes what appears on the surface to be incredible and makes it somehow realistic. Being Will Self, it never shies away from the visceral, but in some respects this enhances the experience - the reader gets transported to this dystopian future, where half the country is underwater and people live on isolated islands. There's a good deal of humour there too, often manipulating pop culture references and turning them into objects of great significance.

Overall, a bloody satisfying read, and worth devoting time to.
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If you can crack the initially daunting code of "mokni" with fills the 'future' half of this book, this is a very worthwhile read and has a great deal worthwhile to say, obliquely, about the nature of religion and modern culture. However unlike other reviewers I don't think it's Will Self's strongest work. If anything he may even be mellowing with age, as this book in parts is more played for laughs than for shock value. A great premise and worth a read for sure.
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on 21 June 2015
v good
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on 15 March 2009
I am a big fan of Will Self and have read most of his novels and short stories and I think this is my favourite. His vision of the future in this book is fascinating and realistically possible. It is also a good insight into how religions can be formed from an insignificant occurrence. The way the chapters go from now to the future keeps you turning the pages way into the night. Also it has a reasonable ending which is the only thing I could ever criticize Will's novels for, which is their lack of them sometimes (which is not a bad thing anyway, look at Kafka). Brilliant and thoroughly recommended, read this and anything else you see by him.
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on 26 October 2015
Could not go beyond 100 pages. Full of an obscure Londonish dialect which is incomprehensible and not at all humerous.
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on 1 February 2009
I bought this book for the father of my children, as it is after all a book written from a dad to his son... It's a rather dark and acid humour... but what else do you expect from witty Will Self? It's a book which makes you think. We loved it....
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on 31 May 2006
If you've read Londonstani this year, you might not be up to reading two novels which boast a vernacular that's a mash-up of street slang, patois and (my least favourite) text "msging". There were some good jokes at its expense in Yellow Dog. Why, three years after it first surfaced, it's still appearing in books claiming to nail the moment down, I'm too disinterested to wonder. Just look at Walter Scott, Scotland's most famous novelist. Yeah, but have you tried reading Waverley? He recreates the idiom phonetically the whole way through. It feels hideously like work from the first page.

But this only speaks for half this book. The rest of it is set in an antediluvian present, where our protagonist, Dave 1, sadly regresses from an educated young boy in awe of his cabbying grandfather, to reluctant social chameleon, dropping his Hs and loosening his belt for all day breakfasts as he fits in with cabbie culture to follow his dream of getting further into London, rather than, like his peers, the hell out. Before long, Dave has been driven mad - by his fares, his soon-to-be estranged wife and the sickening cycle of agencies and lawyers who come to arbitrate his family life. Here we have some mighty modern themes: the disintegration of a man and his family through the vagaries of unconsidered marriage, the eternal dissatisfaction of the beautiful, intelligent but unfulfilled wife, the inevitable car-crash of a grieving Dave and the "welfare of the child". The CSA, Father 4 Justice come in for a welcome mauling. These present-day passages read superbly well as they exact judgement on a life lived by every city dweller, and the slings and arrows visited on any isolated lover. Dave's descent into madness is, frankly, terrifying. Self manages to rein in his trademark pleonasm and (occasionally affected) reliance on similes, laboured metaphors and often pretentious verbosity. I was less keen on the futuristic scenes, Dave 2, set in a drowned London, where characters speak in "Mokni". Any contemporaneous novel that requires a glossary isn't a novel, it's an imposition. But Dave's nightmare world alone makes this a worthwhile read. His best since Dorian (his vibrant 80s update of the Wilde tale, which no-one liked, for spurious reasons).
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on 9 May 2011
There is something incredibly human about this book. Although the characters and plot are outlandish and sometimes you feel the story and characters are like cartoons, it still manages to be believable. It is scathing on religion and I have little doubt the scenario of a cabby based religion, society and culture, is possible, as when it comes to religion us humans in our past and present have believed worse tripe.

The prose oozes of the page and there are sections when the writing is wonderful, but my best memories of this book will be the comedic moments, at one stage I had to get of a train a stop earlier, with embarrassment from laughing to uncontrollably, and the whole long hilarious and tragic episode in that part of the book culminates with "there is worrying about money then there is paying it", a quote I will never forget.

The only critiscism I have, it sometimes feels privey to a Londoner and their famous slang, sometimes I had to stop and ask "What are they talking about" but that was a minor annoyance, it was a great read.
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