Spent a good deal of yesterday washing windows at my parents home in Fenton. This was much less strenuous than it sounds because my Mom asked me to use her spray method to basically clean the outside. The rest of the crew worked on the lawn and other sundry tasks.
Came home and continued reading “The Raw Shark Texts.” I’m about half way through this book and it is continuing to suck me in. At this point, Eric the main character is not only seeking ways to protect himself from a creature (the shark in the title) that feeds on memory and ideas and can be confused by mutliple recordings of voices that set up word associations between themselves and somehow create a safe haven that confuses the creature (I told you this book defies description) He is also traveling through connected corridors of Unspace. Unspace seems to be places that people have neglected to the point they have fallen out of reality’s parameters.
Steven Hall, the author, describes unspace as “empty, abandoned areas of the world… labelless car parks, crawl tunnels, disused attics and cellars, bunkers, maintenance corridors, derelict industrial estates, boarded-up houses, smashed-windowed condemned factories, offlined power plants, underground facilities, storerooms, abandoned hospitals, fire escapes, rooftops, vaults, crumbling churches with dangerous spires, gutted mills, Victorian sewers, dark tunnels, passageways, ventilations systems, stairwells, lifts, the dingy winding corridors behind shop changing rooms, the pockets of no-name-place under manhold covers and behind the overgrow of railway sides.” p. 80
You can see from his use of English that he is a UK type of writer. The story is taking place in England.
There is also an evil persona who has come about as the result of a person trying to imprint his personhood on other people. He begins doing this not in any mystical way but by gradually teaching who he is to other people who essentially become him. At some point this increasingly multiple personality develops a need to protect its continued existence. This part of the story starts out in the 19th century and ends up an extended insidious database in the present that is every bit as evil and frightening as the idea shark.
The one person who like the Wizard of Oz (Hall specifically alludes to the Wizard when this character called Dr. Fidorous refers to Eric the main character as the Tin Man and the woman helping him as Dorothy) seems to hold the key to the situation lives inside tunnels of books and is ever bit as inscrutable and confusing as any Wizard.
The book holds together much better than my explanation, thank goodness.
I think the books is about personality and its expression in words. Memory ends up being sort of metaphoric. Eric has lost memory of his previous incarnations. But in order to throw off the idea shark he will assume personas of other people including their mannerisms. By taking on another’s personality he throws the idea shark of his scent. Idea sharks are like the crocodile in Peter Pan. Once they’ve tasted your persona they keep seeking you out to finish you off somehow sucking your being into their maws. Steven Hall “draws” the creature using words and letters in the book (and on the cover).
And there is more, lots more, to this story. I am enjoying it so far. There is a guy who works partime at Eileen’s library who read this book and mentioned it to Eileen. He is one of the few people in Holland who like me appreciates Charles Bukowski’s poetry and other odd stuff. He told Eileen he was enjoying the book but wasn’t sure about it.
I think that’s where I’m at now too.