by John Barry
First-time novelist Steven Hall is probably at a crossroads. With The Raw Shark Texts, he's come up with a spooky, fascinating premise for a novel. The story opens on a blank page — literally — and progresses as the central character tries to piece his life together while avoiding a memory-devouring shark. Hall's imagination is so restless and bold that at this point a movie adaptation is in the works. Whether this leaves Hall himself dead in his tracks is certainly a question worth asking. For the moment, though, his work is ambitious, challenging and readable, with a cookie-cutter love story at the core that the central character is left trying to revisit. The most memorable character is the shark itself, the ominous devourer of words and memory at the novel's center. The Raw Shark Texts is imperfect but fascinating, and so is its creator. And anyone reading this will wait eagerly — and maybe with a little trepidation — to see where Hall's heading.