17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
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.