Excerpt from The Book of Dave by Will Self, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Book of Dave

A Novel

by Will Self

The Book of Dave by Will Self X
The Book of Dave by Will Self
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2006, 416 pages
    Nov 2007, 512 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

(Partial Excerpt from Chapter 1)

The Hack’s Party
JUN 523 AD*

* Dating is from the purported discovery of the Book of Dave.

Carl De´vu´sh, spindle-shanked, bleach-blond, lampburnt, twelve years old, kicked up buff puffs of sand with his bare feet as he scampered along the path from the manor. Although it was still early in the first tariff, the foglamp had already bored through the cloud and boiled the dew off the island. As he gained height and looked back over his shoulder, Carl saw first the homely notch of Manna Ba¨, then the shrub-choked slopes of the Gayt rising up beyond it. The sea mist had retreated offshore, where it hovered, a white-grey bank merging with the blue screen above. Wot if Eye woz up vair, Carl thought, up vair lyke ve Flyin I? He put himself in this lofty perspective and saw Ham, floating like a water beetle, thrusting out angled legs of grey stone deep into the placid waters of its ultramarine lagoon. The waters intensified the beetle island’s myriad greens: its golden wheatie crop, its purple, blue and mauve flowering buddyspike, its yellowy banks of pricklebush and its feathery stands of fireweed. The whole lustrous shell was picked out by a palisade of blisterweed, the lacy umbels of which trimmed the entire shoreline.

The real island was quite as vivified as any toyist vision, the southeast-facing undulation of land audibly hummed. Bees, drugged by the heat, lay down in the flowers, ants reclined on beds of leaf mould, flying rats gave a liquid coo-burble – then stoppered up. To the south a few gulls soared above the denser greenery of the Ferbiddun Zo¨n.

The little kids who’d left the manor with Carl had run on ahead, up the slope towards the Layn, the avenue of trees that formed the spine of Ham. These thick-trunked, stunted crinkleleafs bordered the cultivated land with a dark, shimmering froth. Carl saw brown legs, tan T-shirts and mops of curly hair flashing among the trunks as the young Hamsters scattered into the woodland. Reedy whoops of joy reached Carl’s ears, and he wished he could go with them into Norfend, galumphing through the undergrowth, sloshing into the boggy hollows to flush out the motos, then herd them towards their wallows.

Up from the manor in a line behind Carl came the older lads – those between ten and fourteen years old – whose graft it was to oversee the motos’ wallowing, before assigning the beasts their day’s toil. Despite everything, Carl remained the acknowledged gaffer of this group, and, as he swerved off the path along one of the linchets dividing the rips, the other eight followed suit, so that the whole party were walking abreast, following the bands of wheatie as they rolled up the rise.

Carl remembered how this ground had been in buddout, each rip mounded with a mixture of moto dung, seaweed, birdshit and roof straw. The motos had deftly laid their own fresh dung, but the other ingredients had to be dug from the byres, scraped from the rocks and gathered from the shore by the older girls and opares.

Next the mummies laboriously dragged truckle after truckle of the mixture up from the manor, before spreading and digging it into the earth with their mattocks. There were no wheels on Ham – save for symbols of them – and therefore no cars or vans either, so the Hamsterwomen tilled the long rips themselves – a team of six yoked to the island’s sole plough, with its heavy irony share. Now the ripening wheatie stood as high as his knees, and it looked as if it would be a good crop this year – not that Carl would necessarily be there to see the mummies grind it under the autumn foglamp, their bare breasts nuzzling the hot stone of their querns as they bent sweatily to the graft.

– Ware, guv, said Billi Brudi, catching Carl’s eye as they reached the linchet bordering the next rip and together stepped over it.

Excerpted from The Book of Dave by Will Self Copyright © 2006 by Will Self. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury Press (USA). All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...
  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Tara Westover had the kind of upbringing most of us can only imagine. She was the youngest of seven ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The House of Broken Angels
    by Luis Alberto Urrea

    The definitive Mexican-American immigrant story from an acclaimed storyteller.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Sorry, we do not currently have an active wordplay!

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.