So the latest hyper-idiosyncratic vision of Will Self is out in the form of The Book of Dave. Summary: Deranged cabbie pens manuscript, buries the metal tablets in the backyard, and five hundred years later, after the apocalyptic flood, the tablets are unearthed and become the template for a new religion (sounds Mormonistic, but in the interview in the Telegraph he cites Christianity as his target). Self has always been excellent at creating worlds, whether in the short stories of Grey Area, where in Chest a man slowly dies from a poisonous atmosphere, or in Great Apes, where all of humanity is replaced by apes, and Book of Dave is no exception as he creates an entire world, language included. The language, however, sometimes goes over the top: consider this sentence excerpted by the NYTRB: “Mì awdas R onlë 2 tayk U sarf 2 Wyc, ware U R 2 B landid. Eye no nuffing uv oo U R aw wot U av dun, mayt, so folla ve rools uv mì ferrë an Eyel giv U no aggro.”
Right. Let me run out and buy more of that.
Although I usually like Will Self, I’m warded off by some of the early feedback about Book of Dave – a common complaint seems to be that certain sections are unreadable and that the rants against organized religion are hardly new critiques. But since Self has steadily produced work that I like over the years, I will probably end up reading it at some point.
Extra tidbit: Quote on writing from Self in a Telegraph interview:
“I think that what blocks so many writers is a platonic view of the text – the need to write an ideal. I’ve always subscribed to the other view that everything is a version. The best I could do at the time.”
On the whole, what he’s produced so far has been good enough.
Labels: Will Self