The Raw Shark Texts
By Steven Hall
Canongate Books, London
Eric Sanderson wakes in his bedroom to discover that he has no memory of who he is. Even the most basic things are gone. A check of his pockets gives him his name and picture on his ID, a note on his door tells him to call Dr Randle, who will help explain everything.
So begins Steven Hall’s trippy, insane, highly original first novel.
It starts off innocently enough, as a novel about psychological damage, loss of memory, and a man trying to find his way back into an unfamiliar world. And then… things get weird.
Eric receives a letter in the mail. From his past self, referred to in the closing as The First Eric Sanderson. Because of course he does. It wasn’t weird enough. But that’s still in the first forty pages, or so. The remaining 300 pages deals with many of the same themes as the starting pages… the fragility of memory, the fear of the unfamiliar, one’s ability to trust those who want to help us…
Oh yeah… and a theoretical FUCKING shark made out of FUCKING words. I know that doesn’t make sense. But imagine a shark made out of words and letters. Now imagine that this shark is mostly made of that. Imagination, that is. The shark is a concept that travels through the stream of consciousness and feeds on memories.
Yup. So there’s that. That’s about page 50. And it only gets weirder from there. The Un-space Exploration Committee, Mr Nobody, Mycroft Ward, and many other weird names, terms, and situations occur. And damn is it ever awesome.
The Raw Shark Texts is a head trip. Imagine Kurt Vonnegut at his weirdest, Clive Barker at his scariest, and Jaws all tossed together into a blender. Then add conceptual sharks made out of words, a touch of British humor and wit, and one hell of a third act.
You may break your brain trying, but you need to read this book. Don’t worry about sleeping again. I know I won’t.