Eric Sanderson doesn’t exist. His body exists. An ID with his face and name on it exists. His mirrored reflection exists. And yet without the memories and knowledge that take a lifetime to accumulate, Eric is left bereft in a sea of information without the ability to link everything into a coherent narrative. Presumably everything in Eric’s life has happened, and yet if he doesn’t remember it,  if the Ludovician (the idea fish) has eaten everything that made Eric Eric, then who is the Eric that we are observing in the first third of the Raw Shark Texts? A shell, a blank. And if those memories and ideas have been eaten and are gone, can they ever exist again?

Eric receives letters from his double, the “first” Eric Sanderson. Does this make the current Eric the second? Third? Eleventh? He begins to think of the first Eric in separate terms than himself, a leader taking him through the complicated business of avoiding the Ludovician and disguising himself in the ideas of others. But the shark is always there, even before the mysterious presence is named for the current Eric it is felt.

There is something so beautifully odd about the idea of a shark stalking the thoughts of this man. An allegory for pain and emotion manifest in the form of a deadly shark threatening to eat everything that makes a person whole. The first third of The Raw Shark Texts is beautiful and heartbreaking, alternately fascinating and universally familiar.

-Allison Gilvezan