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Barely surviving the cryptic story-telling of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Steven Hall’s debut novel The Raw Shark Texts struck me in it’s ability to have strong base origins embedded within the story through items of suspect quality.  Whereas Pynchon pushes Oedipa through discovery of conspiracies that are through the equally conspiracy-driven estate of Pierce, Hall challenges his main character, Eric Sanderson, by delivering letters from his “former” self on how to survive in a way that he formerly could not.  What’s great about this plot device is as a reader we get to see the new Eric suffering from a fugue state gradually allocates information that, while initially guiding him on how to survive the Ludovician, ultimately dives him into a similar Pynchon-esque realm of conspiracy.  The book plunges the reader into questioning if the information he follows is ultimately creating his reality, but at the same time – it creates a completely lush narrative that is not particularly difficult to follow.  From meeting the psychologist that attempts to push him back into a normal life to traveling into unspace along with a new romantic interest Scout to ultimately fight against the overarching Mycroft Ward; Raw Shark Texts dives head first into obscurity but allows the reader to interpret exactly what is obscure about it rather than obscuring the actual base understanding of each consecutive page. (See: Pynchon) This is what I believe to be the most compelling and rather ground-breaking aspect of the novel – clarity granted in a deep dive into obscurity.

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