Okay. I have reached a conclusion about The Raw Shark Texts: it is the story of a man that is very much in love with a woman who accidentally dies when they are on holiday and he discovers that he can’t seem to cope with the loss.
But even a simple story can be imaginatively twisted and injected with complexity and fantasy until it evokes a world unlike that which is familiar to most readers.
What if you woke up on the floor one day and you were a different person; but your driver’s license suggested you were the same as before only you couldn’t remember. A note leads to a doctor who suggests you are suffering from memory loss caused by a dissociative condition and a very rare fugue condition where you are truly the second incarnation of the first individual and that “You #1″ is leaving clues and communications to help you survive and not be destroyed as he was … by the Ludovician, a dangerous conceptual shark that swims beneath the surface of everyday life—”one of the species of purely conceptual fish which swim in the flows of human interaction and the tides of cause and effect.”
In an interesting contrast to The Flame Alphabet, you can create a safe zone by flooding a space with constant language. In this story language can both kill and also save you.
The Raw Shark Texts is a complex imaginative narrative of the adventures of Eric Sanderson #2 in a quest to escape the conceptual shark and to learn how to eliminate the threat forever. Of course there is also a subtext where Eric brings his beloved Clio back to life. How does it turn out?
The first thing to realize about this novel is that it is fiction, in fact, fiction within fiction. As you read there are more and more references or allusions to dialogue, scenes, themes, from the movies or television. This all becomes obvious when The Raw Shark Texts evolves into a version of Peter Benchley’s Jaws (or if you prefer, Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws). At first I balked, thinking Hall was too cute in his fiction, but after reviewing the novel in my head I realized that the author was constantly suggesting that Eric #2 was actually Eric #1 trying to cope with the loss of his loved one. Like a bad dream after a night of guacamole and chocolate cake, Eric’s daymare is created from a jumble of memories from yet another layer of fiction, especially movies.
I think my favorite image from the book was the small glass of little slips of paper, each with the word “water” written on them. In the beginning was the Word …
How does it all turn out? Does Clio come back from the dead? Does Dr. Randle win the Nobel for her theory of fugue? Does Eric Sanderson #3 come in to pickup the pieces? It’s worth reading to find out … try it while it’s still fresh and unusual.