The Raw Shark Texts isn’t anything it pretends to be. It is not a smart, taughtly written genre

thriller. And save for the first and last three-thousand words, it isn’t much of a work of high literature either. What’s interesting is that it has achieved huge success by managing to fall short of both goals, by converging into a sort-of quick-reading clever-seeming mess. It is not a book waiting to become a blockbuster, as many of the pull quotes inside claim, but a blockbuster that somehow managed to skip being both a movie and book.

Like its most interesting character, the Ludovician, it survives by feeding off the livers of that enlightened class of people who consider gimmicky endings as “deep”. Who believe M. Night Shyamalan is a genius because every movie he makes, no matter how well presented, has a surpise at the end. But The Sixth Sense wasn’t a success because of its twist ending, it was in spite of it: if the movie had actively worked to artificially hide the conclusion, it would have fared as poorly as The Village did.

The Raw Shark Texts is not The Sixth Sense, it is not cohesive, front to back. It’s a mess which falls apart well before the big ‘reveal’. It’s a book that pulls you in with a quick, smart, three-thousand word concept-bomb (one that had many publishers in a bidding

om The First Eric Sanderson nearly every single day. In time he discovers that he is being pursued by a mind-fish, the afforementioned Ludovician, which lives in the pooled-conceptual consciousness and he’s got to blah-blah-blah save himself and the world, blah-blah, etc. The problem is that many of his concepts: the Ludovician, the conceptual-mass-consciousness, are interesting and actually worth developing. The problem is that Hall lacks the subtlety or art required to actually do this. Very quick

ly the book degenerates into one filled with canned characters and situations, one that is so cliché it’s frustrating in light of the beginning’s promise.

Hall attempts to cover his tracks by inserting “hints” that the action is all taking place inside Eric Sanderson’s head, that he made the whole thing up and is instead suffering a psychological disease called “brain-fugue”. He suggests, with a wink, that Sanderson’s life has turned into a by-the-numbers Hollywood blockbuster because that’s all the false-reality his brain understands, while ignoring the larger fact, which is

ot make up for the rest, because the printed word requires much larger amounts of undivided attention.

Normally I wo

uld not have finished this book, I’m not interested in masochistically reading through something just to put it down online. But what’s interesting here is that I think a lot of the concepts explored in The Raw Shark Texts are present in the book I just ‘finished’ writing myself. I read through not because I was compelled by my morbid horror, but because of, ah, ‘professional curiosity’. Reading through that first bit, the part that held together and worked, must have been an experience akin to that of The Bravery hearing their first Killers song. He was doing what I wanted to do, he did it better, and it was done– more than that it’d been done for a long time, it was in print.

It was a lesson, that’s definite, but I calmed down as I read. His book lacked art, I noticed, as described above. But if his book lacked art, mine had too much of it. I started to notice some of the cracks in my own writing through reading his. Some of these problems I think I’d noticed when I finished, though I had faith in the end and had hoped they’d resolve themselves through that.

They won’t. It’s going to need more work. But I think I’ve got a better idea of where I need to apply pressure if apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressure apply pressur eapply pressure.

One Comment

  1. “[It]… pulls you in with a quick, smart, three-thousand word concept-bomb”
    -a hot drink shatters spines


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