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The Raw Shark Texts
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Raw Shark Texts
Please provide an email address. Eric has had his personality eaten by a conceptual shark - again! This creature, the so-called "Ludovician", sits at the top of a food chain of conceptual predators that swim through the semiotic sea. It has Eric's scent, and keeps coming back for another mouthful. To escape, Eric has to construct an alternative identity by way of camouflage or - at last resort - hop into a "shark cage" constructed out of a loop of dictaphones playing random conversations.
If this sounds like a load of cobblers, it is.
But it is entertaining, inventive, amusing and stylishly narrated cobblers. You can detect a slew of influences from books Danielewski, Borges, Calvino and co , comics Grant Morrison's The Invisibles; perhaps a tincture of Garth Ennis's Preacher , and, especially, film - the set-up recalls the Matrix, and the final section of the book is, essentially, a fanatical homage to the closing scenes of Jaws.
Eric's flight from the Ludovician, abetted by letters from himself to himself, and fragmentary glimpses into his past, takes him through codebreaking, secret societies "The Un-Space Exploration Committee" , and an encounter with a creepy undead concept-person called Mr Nobody. He acquires a girlfriend called Scout, and a cat called Ian.
At first glance, The Raw Shark Texts - with its typographical hijinks the Ludovician swims through the pages, represented in shark-shaped collages of text and apparent preoccupation with language - resembles experimental literary fiction. Actually, it's more of a romp. The linguistic stuff, the self-reflexiveness, the gesturing at "concepts", is all more decorative than literary-theoretical: our heroes may be burrowing through tunnels of text whose corridors form the shapes of words, but they might equally well be bouncing over giant mushrooms in Super Mario Bros.
This isn't meant to put you off, rather the opposite.
It's a compelling entertainment with some extremely good jokes. Oddly enough, before I read this book I had a conversation with a friend about the least fitting name you could possibly give a cat. We agreed: "Ian. Love puzzles? Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. Books on Amazon. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life.