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(Umbrella #2)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  290 ratings  ·  67 reviews
May 4th, 1970. A week earlier President Nixon has ordered American ground forces into Cambodia to pursue the Vietcong. By the end of the day four students will be shot dead by the National Guards in the grounds of Kent State University. On the other side of the Atlantic, it's a brilliant sunny morning after an April of heavy rain, and at the "Concept House" therapeutic com ...more
Hardcover, 466 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Grove Press (first published 2014)
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3.58  · 
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 ·  290 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Anthony Vacca
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What do the movie Jaws, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the sinking of the USS Indianapolis (followed by the loss of over 500 of the surviving sailors who were eaten by sharks) have to do with one another? Find out in Will Self's follow-up to the fantastic Umbrella. Told in a constant current of prose (the whole novel is one, 466-page paragraph) that flotsams from one stream of the consciousness to the next, Shark is an impossible to synopsize (well, just incredibly difficult) but tightly p ...more
MJ Nicholls
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dazzling and maddening soup of full-fanged characters, rampaging inner lives, and complex skeins of thought and discourse—at once clear-headed and torturous, blissful and painful—Shark is a stupendous and traumatic achievement. Summarising this intellectually rigorous novel is best left to the experts.
Leo Robertson
Can't wait for Will to get this shit out his system so he can go back to writing good stuff people can understand.

Also never, NEVER call someone a genius if they write something you don't enjoy or can't understand, idiot!! What the fuck is genius about that?

Did you know I was a genius? Yeah I wrote this: sj.rfwebvgywelnirgvn;oecgeghsn,fgnksugtvlo5nwcgnekghaverlighvenpw5ghwsgkhvelrsvlewi

Send my award to Leo Robertson, Norway. There's only one of me here and they all know me so they'll know how to
Simon Hollway
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This is much! It is. It really is. Not as tight as its precursor, Umbrella, but still within the D, right below the hoop. Yet not such a slam-dunk for many goodly Goodreaders with impeccable taste who have opted to jump the Shark.

Why so? Well, there are a few rubbish bits. Let’s consider those first, you shameless Self heretics.

In the olden days, Self brandished his vocabulary like a burnished sword and it became a distinct barrier to entry for most. I don’t think he does that anymore. I reall
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Let me be frank here: I guess I am a fuddy duddy traditionalist who likes her novels with a plot, characters she can recognize, and maybe some coherent storytelling. The book's description was intriguing, the style was one I haven't had much experience in (only done a minimum of Joyce and other stream of consciousness writers), so I thought it was high time to try something new. Wow. What a waste of 400 pages.

If merely dragging you, the reader, down to the depths of human pettiness, misery and d
Sep 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
If anyone can make sense of this? Good luck.
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Carcharodon carcharias
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
You din't want any paragraphs anyway, didja, me tidgy didgeridoo? No paras, no chapters, not even any section breaks—none of that codswallop to slow down the inexorable advance of the beast—just one great honking wodge of undifferentiated text, set off only by lots of ellipses and em dashes and the like—sometimes both together...—and by occasional random-seeming emphases. Shark's got to keep moving or die, mate... can't think a wink in between the blitz-quick bits of time and space and split per ...more
Simon Robs
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book two of trilogy, Will Self's main man Zack Busner in an earlier self as compared to "Umbrella" where he's at the tail end of his career as maverick psychologist, so but so he's youngish here a wife two kids, running a sort-of halfway or most all-the-way gone as in nutters communal called 'Comfort House' run by the home team loosey goosey. Umbrella's do show itinerantly but in these choppy swells of clabberd haver it's the apex food chain great white that motifs the events diurnal, early May ...more
Anthony Crupi
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
This slipstream-of-[acid]-consciousness allegory is a goof if you've ever ventured into the deep end of the lysergic Eternity Pool. (See: Set & Setting, Mirror Avoidance, Temporal Witchery, etc.) But the vast majority of readers (wisely) are likely to have skipped out on Albert Hofmann's mind-scrambling and tremendously unstable compound, which probably renders Self's latest doorstop as maddeningly inconsequential as, say, Finnegans [sic] Wake. Whatever your chemical background, the head-scr ...more
Marc Hendriks
Oct 26, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
JUROR: We, the jury, find the defendant, Marc Hendriks, to be guilty of uncultured behavior in the first degree.

JUDGE: Mr. Hendriks, what do you have to say in response to this verdict?

MH: Um, well, I s’pose the jury is sorta kinda right, Your Honor. I know I’m not exactly a Rhodes Scholar, but I did earn my stripes in the field of challenging art. Fer Chrissakes, I read Moby Dick in college for extra credit, watched David Lynch’s Inland Empire in one sitting, sat through videos of Marina Abra
Jul 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Life is too important to be taken seriously... Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

"Shark" (2014) is the colorful and sparkling sequel to "Umbrella" authored by British journalist/columnist novelist Will Self. It was quite a unique experience to become acquainted with Self's authorship. Self is known for writing in "parallel universe"; a sort of alternative fiction: though this style isn't like science fiction, horror-core, supernatural, or of the vampire underworld. "Shark" is a spoof on modern psychology/p
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 21st-century, fiction
This book is in part about how dangerous it can be to elide the difference between mad and not mad; the framing plot (in so far as there is one; this is to some extent a rebellion against plot) is about the potential damage from leaving the lunatics to run the asylum. More generously, it's about the importance of giving care.
But then, it's not so simple as that: the book focuses on individual traumas that stem from collective acts of violence. Like Umbrella, this is a book about the monstrous, d
Shane Bordoli
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like Jaws, but without the shark. I loved it, even though it's let down a bit by the ending, as usual with Will! Written in the modernist style of say Virginia Woolf, as was his last book, Shark is one gargantuan paragraph, no chapters, no breaks, no speech marks. Its essentially a stream of conscious that jumps from one character to another and across different time periods. Give it a go, its not for everyone, but I found it easy to tell who was 'speaking' each time the narrative jumped. Even w ...more
Kevin Stephens
Jun 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
For sale: one slightly used copy of Will Self's Shark. Yikes, is this hot mess of a book a slog to get through. It's one continuous paragraph that runs on (and on) for 466 pages with no breaks, all in a randomly punctuated stream-of-consciousness style that omits such extraneous details as time, location, or which character's voice might be "narrating" at any given moment. I'm not averse to avant garde postmodern writers -- I'm a huge fan of David Foster Wallace -- but this book jumped the shark ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read-list
I won this as a First Read on Goodreads.
I thought the book was awful.I felt guilty but I could not finish reading it,which is a sign of how much I disliked it.Even when I am not enjoying a book too much I will always finish it as sometimes it improves.This book is so bad,I couldn't waste another minute on it.
I do feel bad when I give a bad review ,as I can't begin to imagine how difficult it is to write a book but we win these books to give an honest review.
I found the writing style chaotic and
Michael Jones
Oct 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Thank Jeebus that's over. I wanted to gouge my own eyes out there.

I've had a revelation: a good way to measure books is by how many mistakes made it into print. Think about it, it means the proof readers were bored as fuck and not concentrating. I spotted at least 5 glaring errors and I definitely wasn't concentrating the whole time.

466 pages, 1 chapter, 1 paragraph, little punctuation to help you work out when people were speaking, or which character it was, or even whether it was past present
Cathal Kenneally
I had to read this after reading Umbrella, and I loved it. I'm going to defend Will Self here as I'm sure he's copped a lot of flak for both books I've mentioned. The language for a start is challenging but don't let that put you off. OK it harks back to the days of James Joyce but easier. The Joycean language in Shark at first sounds daunting but you get used to it. I applaud Mr Self for pulling it off. The actual character Zac Busner appears in a few of his books
Leia Spencer
Mar 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
Unreadable. This is supposed to be intelligent and cleaver? Then why are there sound effects written into the sentence? I read a lot of books and I have never come across one that I couldn't even grasp the plot line or concept. What is the point of writing a book that the readers can't follow? How can a writer feel like they are expressing themselves when no one can fathom what they are trying to say? This book is unreadable and incomprehensible.

A waste of $10 and a good afternoon.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
Oh dear, I don't think Mr Self and I are made for each other. I tried this book, ignoring the horrible cover, but I just couldn't get interested. I always read at least 3 chapters of a book I don't like to give the author a chance, but with no chapters and not even any paragraphs I just guessed when to pack it in. Glad to get it back to the library.
Matt S
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
These recent Will Self books are a lot easier to read than they seem at first. Shark isn't quite as good as Umbrella, mainly due to the ill-advised ending where Self jumps the shark (!) with 6/7 pages of fragmented, unattributed stream-of-consciousness that adds nothing to the narrative. Other than that it's great.
Katrina Knittle
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads win. Will read and review once received.

I was really happy when I found out I won this book. When it came in the mail I couldn't help but start to read it right away. The book was quite interesting and definitely not something I usually read. I loved the way the author had with words and writing of the story. This book was weird, strange and at the same time a joy to read.
Lorna Burns
Aug 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
As far as I'm concerned thus doesn't even deserve a star I couldn't finish even though I was determined to as hate giving up. Couldn't even tell you what happened ?! horrible read! writing style not for me! !!!!!!!
Aug 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Well I didn't finish it so that should tell you enough. It was horrible, anxiety inducing slop with one or two redeeming qualities and they were the back and front covers - of which I still hated but not as much as the contents of the book itself.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
Just can't bring myself to keep going. It takes too much attention to keep track of the train of thought as it jumps from person to person. Or at least to much for meat this moment in time. Gotta give it up.
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Stunning. A chore to read aloud, obviously. But just stunningly crafted and otherwise mostly stunning.
Uwe Hook
Feb 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Dadaism, modernism, stream of consciousness: Or call it waste of my time. I guess I'm too much of a traditionalist to get this novel.
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A workout for the brain!
Benjamin Stahl
In a strange, unfortunate coincidence, I happened to read this book over the same period as Ulysses. Both of course are remarkably different. Yet they are both written in a similar, hard-to-follow stream of consciousness style. I had seen Will Self in interviews and always found him quite a pompous git of a man. Regardless, I always found the cover of this book strangely enticing. Unfortunately, however, I found it extremely hard understand. Annoyingly there seems to be a cool idea somewhere in ...more
Norton Stone
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not for the feint hearted. Very difficult to follow, stream of consciousness, multiple narratives switching with no forewarning, literally LSD trips that you hope might lead somewhere. I was determined to read a book by Will Self so I decided to stick with it. I know very few general readers will make the same decision. The author is a genius, but that is the challenge for those who speak another language, making themselves understood. Stick with it and there is a pay off. The writing is ...more
Mark J Easton
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Like surviving a shark attack, this book is difficult to recommend but is at the same time life affirming.

As a long-term fan of Will Self, and a bygone fan of lysergic acid diethylamide, I found Shark as wonderful as it is debilitating, a miracle of prose and a nightmare of broken punctuation, a choppy ocean where the relentlessly changing points of view crash over you, leaving you never certain if you're swimming or drowning, and if you're going to finish the book or finish with the book.

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William Self is an English novelist, reviewer and columnist. He received his education at University College School, Christ's College Finchley, and Exeter College, Oxford. He is married to journalist Deborah Orr.

Self is known for his satirical, grotesque and fantastic novels and short stories set in seemingly parallel universes.

Other books in the series

Umbrella (3 books)
  • Umbrella
  • Phone