Jason's Reviews > The Raw Shark Texts

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
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Mar 29, 11

bookshelves: all-time-favorites
Read in June, 2008

3/29/11 update:
I want to read it again. I also want Hall to write another book. Come on Steve!!

8/19/09 Update:
I found a copy of the UK version of this book in a used book store the other day and it prompted me to re-read it.
This book is so brilliant it's unbelievable. Reading it a second time brought out, in my mind anyway, what is really going on with this book. I'm truly amazed at Hall's performance here.

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i was walking through barnes and noble, i have no idea what i was doing there HA!, and i saw this book...
the title grabbed my attention and i remembered having heard about it at one point or another in connection to danielewski's 'house of leaves'...i picked it up and started reading and haven't stopped...
it's not precisely the exhilarating thrill ride the reviews on the cover would have you believe, but it is extremely gripping and interesting...i can see how it would be compared to danielewski as it very much pokes at the fabric of existence to see how it tears...

the premise at first seems a little cliche, but the execution is quite original and highly imaginative...(i can't help but think this is the novel danielewski should have written after HOL...i still have no idea what he was trying to do with 'only revolutions'...)

this novel deals with a subject that i cannot decide what to do with...
i'm compelled to feel that it is a subject universal to everyone, yet i cannot escape the intimacy of the issue and how close it is to me...to the point where i cannot imagine anyone else really being able to relate to this subject in the same way i do...
yet here is this book...

the subject is that of the void....the gaping cavernous void that you must confront in life at one point or another in a very real way, and also in a very metaphorical way...often it seems ot me this confrontation ends as it did in my case, in a terror induced retreat to whatever safety i could locate...

the first introduction i had to this void was in the deep end of my cousin's swimming pool...as a child of 7 or 8, i was treading water over the deep end, perhaps a depth of 8 feet or so...and i was stricken with an acute awareness of the space underneath me...on some irrational level it deeply terrified me, knowing this space was under me and i didn't really know for certain what was lurking down there...i knew and understood the actual depth of the pool, that it ended a mere few feet below my flailing limbs, but this rational information did nothing to quell the mounting fear that assailed me as long as i stayed in the water...
there's was something horrifying about this space, this emptiness that somehow wasn't empty...
ever since i've had this strange awareness of that void...every so often i'd be reminded soomehow of its existence...
this book did more than remind me of it, it exemplified it...it exposes and explores the very void that i thought was peculiar to my personal neurosis...
this entire story could be said to involve this strange empty space, but there are two overt moments that i should use to discuss what i mean...
the main character eric doesn't care for snorkeling...neither would i...he talks about the occasion when he did go diving and describes the fear he felt when he looked out into the gaping blue bank expanse that represented the open ocean, and how it affected him to the point where he couldn't go back in the water again...
this moment is mirrored to stunning effect when later in the story eric falls in the water and the pages of the text go completely blank...sitting in my comfortable loft staring at those relentlessly blank pages brought my fear of the void rocketing right back to the front of my mind...

in the story, this void is intrinsically connected with eric's loss of memory and the consequent loss his identity...the void tantalizes him with the very real anxiety that he may not only never recover the absent parts of himself, but he may also lose everything he presently knows a second time...

there's more to this than a mere exploration of what identity is, how it functions, and what it means to lose it...i
it's about the strength and power that a concept can wield...
the void isn't a real, concrete place that i can go to and see for myself...but it's there, i can feel it, and more importantly i can feel its influence...conceptual stuctures have every bit as much power over us as any real world construct....

this book deals with this notion like no other text i've ever come across...in the end, it is a conceptual structure that provides for eric's salvation...but, it was yet another conceptual structure that threatened eric's life to begin with...they can go either way...they have the potency to save or destroy...

an incredible book...





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message 4: by Tracy (new)

Tracy It sounds really cool and tempting!

I totally see it for a class that would deal with perception/memory/sense of self...

Hm...I might have to get it!

Sorry, by the way. I've been out of town for almost a week! I've missed our correspondence : )


Jason it's a quick read and well worth it in my opinion...
it borders on the ludicrous without quite stepping over the line...

i'm glad you're back!...hope you had a good time, it seems you were ripe for a good holiday...


message 2: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Wow (to your longer comment)!!

That sense / belief that something that overwhelms and frightens us is also the place of healing is truly profound...

And, I think it's true. It's just that we have to be strong enought to do that healing.

Now I want to read the book even more!


Christoff I had a tweet from Steve saying he's got another one on the way!


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