Friday, January 23, 2009

The Raw Shark Texts

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall was originally published in 2007. My hardcover copy is 428 pages. It seems reviews are passionately hot or cold for The Raw Shark Texts, Hall's first novel. I am going to say right from the start that I liked it... a lot. I didn't mind the references to other writers and pop culture and I'm good with the "it's like Jaws meets The Matrix" comparison. Where I am giving Hall credit is in the integration of the idea of conceptual rivers and predatory conceptual sharks into a novel. Perhaps the point that needs to be made is that I also like science fiction and that is really where The Raw Shark Texts belongs. Now, that said, there were a few little issues I had with the book. The story could have been tightened up in a few places, especially near the end, where, and I'm wording this carefully, it also would have benefited from being kept more conceptual, less real. (I think this is sufficiently vague enough to not be a spoiler.) Rating: 4.5

Synopsis from cover:
Eric Sanderson wakes up in a house one day with no idea who or where he is. A note instructs him to see a Dr. Randle immediately, who informs him that he is undergoing yet another episode of acute memory loss that is a symptom of his severe dissociative disorder. Eric's been in Dr. Randle's care for two years - since the tragic death of his great love, Clio, while the two vacationed in the Greek islands.

But there may be more to the story, or it may be a different story altogether. As Eric begins to examine letters and papers left in the house by "the first Eric Sanderson," a staggeringly different explanation for what is happening to Eric emerges, and he and the reader embark on a quest to recover the truth and escape the remorseless predatory forces that threatens to devour him.

The Raw Shark Texts is a kaleidoscopic novel about the magnitude of love and the devastating effect of losing that love. It will dazzle you, it will move you, and will leave an indelible imprint like nothing you have read in a long time.

"I was unconscious. I'd stopped breathing." opening sentences

"I felt that prickling horror, the one that comes when you realise the extent of something bad - if you're dangerously lost or you've made some terrible mistake - the reality of the situation creeping in through the back of your head like a pantomime Dracula.
I did not know who I was. I did not know where I was.
That simple
That frightening." pg. 4-5

"What I believe you've been experiencing is memory loss caused by what we call dissociative condition." pg. 7

"How many times have we done this, Doctor?"
She didn't even stop to think about it.
"This will be your eleventh recurrence," she said. pg. 12

"With each recurrence, you remember less." pg. 14

"This is the first of a series of letters I have created to help you survive your new life. You will get these letters at regular intervals....
With regret and also hope,
The First Eric Sanderson." pg. 22-23

"I thought about how a moment in history could be pressed flat and preserved like a flower is pressed flat and preserved between the pages of an encyclopaedia. Memory pressed flat into text. The Light Bulb Fragment was some sort of journal or transcript, a written window into my missing past." pg. 36

"We realised our own conversations had evolved into a kind of shorthand, a tidy, neat little minimalism. Covering the whole canvas in broad obvious brushstrokes for outsiders felt like a waste of sounds, time and effort. Speaking with footnotes, Clio would call it later..." pg. 41

"I'm so forgetful. The creature will find something I've missed because it never stops looking and its senses are very sharp.....The Ludovician is a predator, a shark. It feeds on human memories and the intrinsic sense of self." pg. 64

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought this recently and plan to read it soon.
I almost bought O'Nan's latest at B&N on date night as well.