Friday, June 16, 2006

I had that Dave the Cabbie in my audience the other night...

Was at Morley College last night for a reading by Will Self of his new novel The Book of Dave with some Q & A after. Self was his usual acerbic, engaging and entertaining self. He really loves reading from his own work often lingering on certain phrases and words for emphasis and revelling in the vernacular and in accents.

The book is about a London cabbie called Dave who writes a misogynistic, rascist, homophobic rant and buries it in his ex-wifes garden addressed to his son. Several centuries later his book is discovered after London is drowned from rising sea-levels by the inhabitants of the island of Ham - the only part of the city left above sea-level - and taken as a holy book.

The first reading of the novel was set in the near past and was about Dave picking up an american fare. The conversation and Dave's inner monologue are as you'd expect from a bigot and very funny.

After the readings there were some questions from the floor. After a few people spoke, one bloke sitting on his own with a fedora and a cane raised his hand and said,

'My name's Dave and I'm a cabbie and no cabbie would ever say those things'

Much heated debate ensued over the nature of plausibility and truth in fiction. Self defended himself vigorously with the pointed dissection of Dave's points like a seasoned barrister. Unfortunately, Dave's position descended into personal abuse finally calling Self and his like a cheroot-smoking, middle-class intellectual fancy boy.

Oh Dear. I'm afraid Dave the Cabbie only made Dave the Cabbie an only too plausible bitter, anger-filled figure. One-nil to Self.

We have signed copies in store now.


  1. It will be interesting to see whether Will`s book features in the new Independent Booksellers Bestsellers list which the Bookseller has started. So far it looks as if the list is pretty much the same as all the other lists, and as amazon`s top 20 - rather gives the lie to the idea that people do not buy their best sellers from independent book stores. But it will be good if we see some completely whacky and little-known books only sold by independent come out in the bestsellers list .. I wonder if it will happen.

  2. Elaine MulinganiJune 26, 2006

    Only thing that worries me is the similarity of the premise (from what I can gather from the reviews - should stress I've not read TBOD yet), to that of Hoban's Riddley Walker. Accidentally surviving text (in RW, the distorted story of St Eustace mashed up with the Punch & Judy fable) becomes a bible for a post-apocalyptic world -- all phonetically rendered in an imagined future patois/vernacular, which shows you how clever the author is and makes the book one hell of a chore to plough through. We know RW is one of Self's favourite books - at least, he tells us so in the introduction he wtrote for the Bloomsbury paperback -- but he does now seem to have progressed to the sincerest form of flattery. Or, if anyone reading this has read both, have I got it all wrong?