The Book Of Dave – Guardian Review

M. John Harrison, 27th May 2006

“It’s hard not to put Riddley Walker at the centre of The Book of Dave, if only because, like Self’s novel, it is written in a constructed post-disaster dialect, with its own glossary. But the difference between the two men is anger, and how anger manages the comic sensibility. Typically, Hoban’s amused gaze hunts and pecks from place to place and, though it never settles anywhere for long, eventually assembles a sort of magpie nest of cultural items from which the possibility of humanity can hatch. Self is obsessive. His intellect swings across its subjects like a headlight, and, once it locks on, won’t let go until it’s seen what it wants us to see. There’s a great rationality – it’s almost as dismissive as J G Ballard’s or John Gray’s – and great rage, but is there any of the tenderness Hoban always achieves? Well, in a weird way, this time, there is. Michelle and Dave aren’t caricatures. They’ve messed up their lives, but they’re encouraged to stumble towards some sort of self-knowledge. This time even the psychologists – Zack Busner makes a predictable appearance – seem benign, and achieve something like a cure.”

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