Where to start with The Raw Shark Texts? Where to start?
There’s something about this book that defies explanation. Something slightly…off about it. Not in a bad way mind you, but rather in such a manner that once you’ve read it you can’t quite define what it is you’ve just experienced.
The setup for the book is this: a man wakes up with no memory and a note from an individual who describes himself as The First Eric Sanderson. Through a series of clues left by his previous self, the current iteration of Eric Sanderson learns that his mind is affected by a strange disorder that causes his memory to wipe itself clean from time to time.
If you think this sounds interesting, trust me, we haven’t even gotten to the cool stuff yet.
As Eric receives more and more clues he starts to realize something strange about the world. There is something hunting him, something not quite real, and yet altogether deadly. A creature made of ideas searching through the conceptual universe, trying to devour Eric’s memories.
Was that last sentence too much for you? Did it make you sit up and go “Huh? What did he just say?” Well this is where the book really gets interesting.
The premise of the book is that the world is not entirely real, but rather is constructed out of the concepts and ideas that live in our minds. For instance, when you think the word “couch” there is something that comes to your mind. The word is linked to the idea in your mind. There is no reality beyond our collective perception of reality.
Too confusing? Let me try it this way: it’s like the Matrix, but there are books instead of computers. Sort of.
There’s a bit of a meta flavor to this concept too, because in the book reality really is made out of concepts. Fiction depends on us being able to translate dead words into living situations in our minds, so within the context of the story itself the premise makes perfect sense.
The ultimate villain in the story is a thing that used to be a man named Mycroft Ward. Mycroft Ward found a way to manually transfer his consciousness into the mind of another. I would explain what that means, but I think it would make more sense if you just read it for yourself. By the time Eric Sanderson hears about him, Mycroft Ward’s consciousness has become obsessed with survival and his trying to download itself into every mind on the planet.
I’ve tried to give you a picture of what this book is like, but the truth is I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the wonders it contains. It has the uncanny ability to create imagery that sticks in your mind like bur. The red file cabinet, biro world, the Ludovician, they all manage to take a hold on your memories.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this book is not for the casual reader. This book will make you think. It will tickle at the back of your brain and subtly change the way you look at the world.
And that, I think, is the best thing I can say about any book.