Finished The Book of Dave by Will Self. Novel partly set in a post-apocalyptic future Hampstead where society is structured around a religion created by messily-divorced black cab driver Dave Rudman. Two future plotlines are alternated with incidents in Dave's life.
The future characters talk mostly in the demotic language Mokni, heavily seasoned with taxi metaphors. The sun is the foglamp, the night sky the dashboard, adult women pass through the three stages of life: opare, mummy and boiler. Life is structured around the Changeover when children pass from the custody of dad to mummy.
It's a nice concept that works well at first. Gets a bit tiresome after a while though. I think Will Self may be better at short stories than novels: the plot here is lethargic and doesn't really go anywhere, and the satire doesn't really benefit from length and repetition.
The life story of Dave is actually more interesting than the future plot: Dave stays just on the right side of stereotype and his disintegration is pretty poignant.
The prose is impressively clever, in a beat-you-over-the-head-with-its-cleverness kind of way.
Overall, flawed but interesting.
Also in the flawed but interesting camp was the Beowulf movie. The flaws have been well addressed by now: the bizarre hide-the-sausage naked fight scene in particular. It's not a movie to see if you have a low silliness threshold.
Was impressed by a few things though. It did manage to break some of the usually ironclad Hollywood formulas; little details that are normally almost impossible to get past they system. For instance, normally they try to compress the timeframe into the shortest possible time: it was good that they skipped a couple of decades into the future to include the final confrontation with the dragon.
Also they managed to make Beowulf a more flawed character than a normal hero: boastful, careless with his thanes' lives, adulterous. Even if the producers accept that, normally the stars veto it.
Don't really want to go into the animation debate again, except to say that this is an action movie, and animation is already the norm for the action scenes in action movies. Is anyone really saying "Hey, I find Die Hard 4.0 and The Bourne Ultimatum so much more authentic in the way the action scenes are strung together with celluloid footage of people talking"?
Overall, pretty entertaining. I saw the 35mm, but go for the 3D IMAX if you can.
Aside: found this metachat discussion quite annoying. Gosh, that Beowulf character in the poem is far too violent and sexist for someone as sensitive as me...
What I'm Reading 2
Gradually got through The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Book to dip into rather than read cover to cover. Moderately amusing, Thought it worked best as a spoof of survival guides. Manages the portentous tone very well, with the familiar grim self-satisfaction at the dismal fate awaiting the unprepared.
Next destination in the Very Slow Art Tour of Europe is Spain. Doing a similar thing as Italy last year. Flying out to Madrid on 12th December, then overland to Barcelona, flying from there to my parents on the 20th.
Got plenty of your advice last time. Any more tips on what to see, where to stay? Haven't booked the train yet.
Economics. The resource curse in practice.
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