At some point, nearly everyone has wondered what future generations will think about us hundreds of years after we’re gone. Well, at least I’ve wondered about it. Reading our books, watching our movies and TV shows (if future technologies are even capable of viewing our movies and TV shows), what will those future folk think of us?
Will Self’s bizarre, blistering satirical novel The Book of Dave has an answer to that question, and it isn’t pretty. “Dave” centers on British cabbie Dave Rudman, a sullen, angry man whose wife has left him and taken their son away
from him. Dave, wrapped in a blanket of hate and rage, talks to himself behind the wheel, hangs out with a bunch of other ticked off dads, and sinks deeper into madness.
Self flips back and forth between Dave’s story and another one, set hundreds of years in the future. A flood has wiped out the world as we know it, and the remaining humans are trying to rebuild society using a book they’ve found somewhere in the flood’s wreckage. The book, it turns out, is a manifesto written by Dave, and it has spawned an entire culture of bigotry, misogyny and ignorance.
Using these two parallel stories, Self shrewdly skewers religion, relationships and much else about the world we live in. The results are both funny (all the futuristic citizen’s greet each other with the cabbie’s salutation “Where to, Guv?”) and chilling. The Book of Dave can be difficult to follow, particularly the parts set in the future in which nearly everyone speaks in Dave’s impenetrable
Cockney slang. But at its heart, it’s a fascinating examination of our current society and how its bits and pieces may look to the strangers who stumble upon them years from now.