Friday, June 4, 2010

Reading Log: Summer 2010

Let the annual summer reading binge begin! Comments will be added here whenever I finish reading something. There's no concrete schedule or anything, but I'm hoping to put something in here about once a week or so. So stay tuned!

June 4:
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall (2007)
A fun and inventive, if somewhat restless, postmodern fantasy/horror novel that plays out like the natural combination of Danielewski's House of Leaves and Gaiman's Neverwhere. Hall's problem is that he, like the titular shark, bites off a little more than he can chew. In telling the story of Eric Sanderson, Hall effectively constructs an entire mythology which, despite being fascinating and clever, is never really detailed for the reader as much as it should be. The story runs as such: Sanderson awakes one morning, memory completely erased, only to discover that he is being preyed upon by an especially aggressive species of "purely conceptual fish" that swims through thought streams and feeds off memories and information. It's a gleefully enjoyable premise, and for the most part Hall runs with it (the House of Leaves-esque textual stylings are especially effective). He just lets the details and finer points of his creation get the better of him. Even so, the story is well told (even if the central romance does feel a bit strained in places -- one is left wishing Hall would have come up with a plotline as ingenious and original as his overall concept) and the ride is quick, snappy, amusing, and consistently intriguing. And it is the guy's first novel, after all. More than just cutting him some slack, I really want to give him a giant pat on the back for even attempting something so audacious and, frankly, relevant to the internet generation. So yeah: all nitpicks aside, it's good stuff. And Ian is just delightful. Grade: B+

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