Even though it was my turn to stay home on bookclub night last month, I did actually read the book anyway. My take on bookclub is to write my thoughts into this blog and whoever reads this is welcome to comment. Or not. It was a post-modern novel this time, so alternatives to traditional, in-situ bookclub discussion are completely appropriate.
Jaws meets Memento meets The 39 Steps meets Tristram Shandy
I tried to get this. I really did. I hung on – hoping for something. Something that never came. Almost, but not quite.
It is difficult to talk about or explain The Raw Shark Texts, the first novel by UK author Steven Hall, without giving away some of the surprises. I don’t want to give any spoilers, as it is the mystery and surprises that were the most rewarding parts of the book for me. In this way, it reminded me of The 39 Steps – the main protagonist has no idea what is going on, neither does the reader, and the fun is from finding it out together.
Hall has training in Fine Arts, and apparently produced artwork with a textual element. This background is apparent in the book, with something akin to ASCII art featuring in the story and even forming part philosophy underpinning the story’s universe. It was a very interesting idea, but didn’t quite work for me as a plot device.
The title is a pun on Rorschach (ink-blot) Tests where the reader is urged to come up with their own interpretation of what is happening in the story. Unfortunately, I found enough inconsistency with different interpretations that I couldn’t find any that really worked, although I could appreciate the story as a bunch of clever ideas.