Author(s): Will Self

Fiction - Contemporary

The edges of personality are permeable, we exist in each other’s memories and imaginations more clearly than we do in our own (if memory or imagination can be called our own), and our minds (if they can be called minds) are a seething mass of voices, ceaseless and from all sources, coagulating and dissolving against the bows of consciousness as it passes, impelled by unseen currents and capricious winds as much as by the hand that affects to grasp the tiller. Shark is a remarkable portrayal of the movement of thought as it skitters, with or without attempts to control it, across the slippery surfaces of circumstance. What starts with the Joycean image of the protagonist, Zac Busner, shaving, moves, with Joycean fluidity and corresponding linguistic maximalism, from mind to mind and voice to voice between the characters Busner 'contains', principally the residents at the experimental anti-psychiatric community he runs along the lines of those of R.D. Laing. Self is very interested in the formal pressures exerted upon narrative by unacknowledgeable forces (in the way that a work by W.G. Sebald may be ‘about’ the Holocaust without directly mentioning it), and has said he wanted to write a book that was ‘Jaws without the shark’ (the shark in this instance being drug-addiction (of which Self has personal experience)). The trauma that percolates through the characters and discharges from mind to mind during an ill-advised therapeutic LSD session (this is 1970) is the involvement of one of Busner’s patients in an (actual) historical incident: after delivering the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Nagasaki, the USS Indianapoliswas sunk by a Japanese submarine and, before the delayed rescue, 600 men were eaten by sharks. This book is both terrible and tender, both challenging and a lot of fun, and Self’s vast, playful, fierce intellectual achievement is informed also by deep feeling and compassion. - Thomas


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780670918584
  • : Penguin Books Ltd
  • : Viking
  • : July 2014
  • : United Kingdom
  • : September 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Will Self
  • : Paperback
  • : 1