The Raw Shark Texts was released back in 2007 by first time U.K. author, Steven Hall. In some circles, it’s been referred to as some bizarre cross between Jaws and The Matrix with perhaps a little Da Vinci Code thrown in there for good measure. It follows the story of Eric Saunderson who awakes on his bedroom floor without any memories. While the man retains his basic motor functions, he remembers nothing resembling emotions or sense of identity. Shortly upon awaking, Eric finds a note left by the “first Eric Saunderson” with basic instructions on how to resume his life. From this point forward a proverbial can of worms is opened and the mystery unfolds itself in an addictive way, by which I mean, it’s really hard to put this book down.
I had an experience like this when I read “House of Leaves”. The stories are quite different but the layout is just as ambitious. While Danielewski goes above and beyond with liner and foot notes as well as scratches and interchanging fonts, Hall goes with long gaps of pages with little to no words as well as diagrams and exhibits. The changing style throughout the novel really adds to the experience and gets the reader more involved in what is happening to Eric’s world. There’s something about this style that I really like. I guess it’s refreshing to pick up a book that not only feels different but looks different as well. Some people could probably write this off as some sort of gimmick but changing things up once in a while should be welcomed.
While Hall is working on a second book, whether he can produce something on par to Raw Shark Texts remains to be seen but I know that I’ll be checking it out. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go in the direction of Danielewski’s Only Revolutions.