The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall is a great read. I suppose I should say something to support that. I’ll try without giving anything away.
Eric Sanderson doesn’t remember who he is. He remembers songs and how to drive and cook and all the everyday things of living but he doesn’t know anything about himself. It is convenient that the first Eric Sanderson, the one who did remember, left him notes and sent him letters to explain things. But the things are so bizarre it is hard for the second Eric Sanderson to believe it. So he doesn’t. At least until he is attacked by a shark in his own livingroom.
The shark is after Eric because the first Eric, in an attempt to bring back to life his dead girlfriend, Clio, goes too far. The shark is a conceptual shark:
It is an example of one of the many species of purely conceptual fish which swim in the flows of human interaction and the tides of cause and effect. This may sound like madness, but it isn’t. Life is tenacious and determined. The streams, currents and rivers of human knowledge, experience and communication which have grown throughout our short history are now a vast, rich and bountiful environment. Why should we expect these flows to be sterile?
This is a book in which concepts can get you into trouble. At the end of course, Eric has to try and kill the shark. He and the two people who are helping him create a conceptual boat. In reality it is boards and barrels and one of the propellers is a fan, but when you believe in the concept–that this is a shark hunting boat–then suddenly it is and you are on a “real” boat in the middle of the ocean. And if any of the people on the boat had bothered to watch Jaws first, they may have thought twice because good gracious is the last quarter of the book intense!
The first Eric taught the second Eric ways to protect himself from the shark, but it is temporary solution not a permanent fix. Eric sets out to find Dr. Trey Fidorous, the only one who can help the second Eric get rid of the shark. Going with him on this journey is his big ginger cat, Ian. Now for some reason the cat being called Ian is supposed to be funny as various people have odd reactions to the cat’s name. The author is British. Is this a British joke I am just not getting?
Along his journey, Eric is saved from Mr. Nobody by Scout, an in-your-face take-no-prisoners kind of gal who has a great sense of humor. She knows how to find Dr. Fidorous.
I think that’s all I can tell you about the plot. It is weird, so if you don’t like weird this book is not for you. The book is about memory and conceptual being, grief and longing, identity, reality and unreality and most of all, mind. It’s also about the things we see and the things we refuse to see. It’s a fairly quick read that got my heart pounding in a few places. But it also had plenty of thinking moments. This is sort of a best of both worlds kind of book, fast plot coupled with development of ideas. It seems to have quite a following. In addition to the Wikipedia page (spoilers galore there), I have found a wiki on which people who have read the book are creating annotations (spoilers here too!). Give the book a try if you are in the mood for something a bit…different.