Friday, October 3, 2008

Book Review: "The Raw Shark Texts" by Steven Hall

The Raw Shark Texts is Steven Hall’s first novel. The book was supposed to be written in a way that each person comes away with a different experience or interpretation, the title itself is a play on words of “Rorschach Test”, the inkblot tests that psychologists use on their patients. While the use and influence of many different genres can be found in the book, not one specific genre can be used to describe the book. To me the book seems to be a mixture of Lewis Carroll’s absurd storytelling and Kurt Vonnegut’s idea of the abstract. While it lacks Carroll’s nonsensical poetry it makes up for it with visualized text, and though not as satirical as a piece of Mr. Vonnegut’s work it is steep with abstract thoughts and ideas that can only come out of a work of science fiction.

The story follows the events of the second Eric Sanderson, a man who wakes up one morning with what appears to be complete amnesia of his entire life. Strangely enough instructions are left by the phone, from the first Eric, just in case this was to happen. The instructions tell him to contact a retired female psychiatrist Dr. Randle that the first Eric had been seeing for some time before the amnesia. Dr. Randle tells the second Eric that he is suffering from a dissociative condition known as fugue do to the tragic death of the first Eric Sanderson’s girlfriend Clio Aames. Dr. Randle also tells the second Eric that he might receive letters from the first Eric and that he should hand these over to her without reading them as to not further worsen his condition. Little does Dr. Randle know that the instructions that the second Eric received before seeing her state that he must not reveal to Dr. Randle any of the first Eric’s letters. Confused and lost the second Eric decides to not hand over the letters to Dr. Randle nor read them himself, and just live his life as normally as possible. This works for the second Eric for a while, until one sleepless night an incident occurs that threatens his life, and leaves the second Eric with to many questions unanswered about his previous life. This event leads the second Eric deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that was his first life.

Through out the rest of the book many different genres come to life from thriller and suspense, to folk lore and secret societies, to a love story and action scenes that keeps you reading to find out what is next. Like many other classic books no one will come away with the same thoughts on the book. My only complaint is that the book ends like a popular movie that I had seen long ago, but there could be a reason for this, and the only way I could know for sure would be to ask the author who would only tell me that everybody comes away with a different interpretation.

Review by Jesse The Adult Program Librarian Guy

1 comment:

Beth said...

hm...sounds interesting.