I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this must-read book for the past few months. After reading and hearing about The Raw Shark Texts (Steven Hall) from a variety of respectable folks, I knew I had to get to it. And now that I have? Most definitely worth it. Worth the late nights I stayed up to finish it and worth the disastrous self-inflicted nail biting.
If you haven’t heard the short of the long yet, here goes: it’s about a man who wakes up one day with no memory. He attempts to put together the missing fragments of his life and eventually finds out that he is being chased by a conceptual shark who feeds on people’s memory. Um yes. A conceptual shark. You got that, right?
There’s a lot of other movie thriller stuff here, like romances and death-defying adventure. But mostly what it is about is memory and grief, and how the introduction of the latter can alter the former. How one can fall so deep inside a sense of loss that all other mechanics of self-awareness disappear. It is one of those clever meta-textual novels that can drive one to distraction, but somehow first time novelist Hall gets away with it without falling into Da Vinci Code drivel. His narrative is fascinating, and some of my favourite sections are those which include Eric’s memories of his conversations with his dead girlfriend, Clio (enter grief as mentioned above). Like this (page 42):
“It’s tiring not knowing people, isn’t it?” Clio said later.
“It isn’t word-efficient.” I agreed.