Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Book of Dave

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but in the case I'm going by the title, "The Book of Dave," by Will Self. This novel is about a London cab driver whose life is coming apart; his marriage is failing and he's addicted to antidepressants. He keeps a journal in which he outlines his psychotic beliefs about the roles of men and women and how society should function. To preserve the journals for his young son, he buries them. Hundreds of years later, after the apocalypse, the journals are discovered. The existing primitive civilization believes them to be sacred and structures their society based on the writings. For example, when people greet each other, they don't say "Hello." Instead, they say,"Where to, guv?"

As with "Clockwork Orange," the author has invented a futuristic language. It's mainly phonetic and a glossary is included, but I'm trying not to use it. Anthony Burgess told me that his glossary wasn't part of Clockwork's first printing because he wanted the reader to "learn" the language. OK, he told me this during an informal Q&A after a speech at Penn State. I wasn't the only one in the room but he did speak to me directly and called me "Sir."

I've only read a few pages of "Dave" but it's intriguing.


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