34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Not for everyone,
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.