Sunday, June 09, 2013

Who are you calling clever-clever?

Due to a holiday plus some regular commuting in the last few weeks, I have read a few books for fun and not solely to steal from for work (I've also done that, too). To remind myself in ages to come and to break up my ongoing Doctor Who project I shall endeavour to blog my thoughts on these books. First off:

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
I’d meant to read this for some time but Steven’s accolade as one of Granta’s Young Writers To Stalk (sort of like Springwatch for typing) prompted me to get on with it. It’s exciting, smart and ridiculous (as I tweeted him), taking the high-concept wheeze of a man who’s memories are being eaten by the abstract idea of a shark, and then seeing what happens next.
“'This is so crazy I'm not even going to ask.'

'Probably for the best,' the doctor said. 'It's easier if you just accept it.' 
Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts (2007), p. 317.
Mark Haddon calls the book “The bastard love-child of The Matrix, Jaws and The da Vinci Code” - on a genuine post-it note stuck rather than printed on the title page, itself an achingly trendy conceit. The book ought to so drip with its own clever-cleverness that I’d have given up early on. The 52-page interruption in the prose where the image of a shark composed of individual letters heads towards us as in a flickbook ought to take us right out of the adventure – as similar textual gimmickry did, I felt, with Philip Palmer's Debateable Space. I want – I love – to be lost in a story and resent the author waving from the margins.

But Steven contrives to make this sequence and the book as a whole enthralling, with twists and characters and digressions on the nature of language that kept me reading on. Bother him, I found it very difficult to put down, right to the last page. I look forward with feverish anticipation to his next one. (There's an excerpt from it in Granta #123; and also he's written some knock-off Doctor Who.)

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