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Shark [Kindle Edition]

Will Self
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Shark by Will Self - the eagerly anticipated new novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of Umbrella

4 May 1970. A week earlier President Nixon has ordered American ground forces into Cambodia to pursue the Vietcong. By the end of the day four students will be lying in the grounds of Kent State University, shot dead by the National Guard. On the other side of the Atlantic, it's a brilliant sunny morning after an April of heavy rain, and at the Concept House therapeutic community he has set up in the London suburb of Willesden, maverick psychiatrist Dr Zack Busner has been tricked into joining a decidedly ill-advised LSD trip with several of its disturbed residents.

Five years later, sitting in a nearby cinema watching Steven Spielberg's Jaws with his young son, Busner realizes the true nature of the events that transpired on that dread-soaked day, when a survivor of the worst disaster in the US Navy's history - the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the shark-infested south Pacific - came face-to-face with the British Royal Air Force observer on the Enola Gay's mission to Hiroshima.

Set a year before the action of his Booker-shortlisted Umbrella, Will Self's new novel continues its exploration of the complex relationship between human psychopathology and human technological progress; and like Umbrella, weaves together multiple narratives across several decades of the twentieth century to produce a fiendish tapestry depicting the state we're enmeshed in.

Will Self is the author of many novels and books of non-fiction, including Great Apes, The Book of Dave, How the Dead Live, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002, The Butt, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2008, and Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2012. He lives in South London.

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Product Description


An exciting, mesmerizing, wonderfully disturbing book. Go with it and it will suck you under (Daily Telegraph)

Breathtaking and dazzling. An exhilarating tour-de-force ... immersing the reader in a trippy Odyssey (Daily Mail)

Intellectually dazzling and emotionally frazzling. Self is the most daring and delightful novelist of his generation (Guardian)

Will challenge and disturb, exasperate and entertain (Independent)

Highly enjoyable, vividly, even profoundly imagined. Self is creating something rather grand (Sunday Times)

About the Author

Will Self is the author of six short-story collections, a book of novellas, eight novels, and six collections of journalism. His work has won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. His latest novel, "Umbrella," was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1058 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (4 Sept. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,971 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing challenge 1 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition
Will Self's 'Shark' is easily one of the most 'different' books that I have ever read. It definitely won't appeal to everyone as it challenges the reader in ways most books don't. But for those up for the challenge, 'Shark' won't disappoint.

Self is a modernist author. There are no chapters, just one long piece of prose, if you have read any 'Beats' poetry, that's the kind of writing style you get here. The prose gets interrupted on a regular basis by the protagonists thoughts which, whilst it takes some getting used to, it's a refreshing take on writing as it is quite genuine, and quite reflective on actual thought. This quote from near the beginning of the book should give you a good idea about it: "...since he stopped taking notes during analytic sessions, allowing them instead to develop as they will, freeform, without the imposition of those prejudicial categories..." That is a pretty good definition of the way this book is written. It is refreshingly different, although it will definitely not be for everyone.

The blurb on the back of the book describes the books plot as weaving multiple narratives across several decades of the twentieth century to produce a fiendish tapestry depicting the state we're enmeshed in. The book itself is quite simply different to anything else I have ever read before. It's all about thought and a 'stream of consciousness'. There is no mid-ground here. You will either love or loathe this book which is wonderfully refreshing. Do I love it? I don't know. I just know that I loved the challenge of reading it, the freeform way that Self writes is like nothing else in literature at the moment, and that for one, should be celebrated.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons To Read It... 7 Oct. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read this for the experience of being other people. From Self's preceding novels, I always quite liked Dr. Zack Busner, who came across as hardworking and reasonably ethical, if a little self-serving. In Umbrella though, written before Shark - that first experience of actually BEING Busner was mind blowing - the fear, the confusion, the weight of failure - to see behind the curtain is to realise how little we generally know of each other.

What surprises me about being Audrey in Umbrella and then being Genie in Shark - is Self's ability to be female. Male-written women usually coat my frontal cortex with a sticky residue from this - rhetoric of the supposed - "I suppose women feel like this, because it's how I would feel in their situation" - yet therein drones a man's internal monologue. But here, with internal reality all there is - he's actually had to become these people - and there's no Morgan Freeman, narrating from a cloud.

So what you might enjoy in this book, is its ever shifting opacities - the reality of one mind, closing off the knowledge of others, followed by the worldview of another, blind to that of the last but elucidatory to so much else. He said he was inspired to write Jaws without the shark, and in the process of snaking through different skins, you notice something - very often the predator's invisible if it's you it's tailing. Now that's unsettling...

Back in the day, when Self was being criticised for "a lack of characterisation" by which was meant, the absence of crudely annotated affect (the literary equivalent of melodramatic face-masks in Kabuki theatre) - he did nonetheless paint that more opaque reality with astonishing clarity, and if you enjoyed the acuity then, well it's all very much exploded out into a world of feeling...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Diandri
Will Self is an author that amazes & frustrates in equal measure which his latest episode in the life on Zack Busner also manages. I love the mental stimulation of his writing in that the beauty, complexity & possibilities of English & the novel can be explored in daring & exciting ways, but Shark felt slightly weaker than his previous Umbrella. I loved the variety of his characters voices & yes he does write women well, but I missed a character as fascinating as Audrey. I would like to have had much more about Evenrude & the Indianapolis sinking & indeed those are my favourite bits. Loved the "supervised" trip towards the end as it had plenty of laughs as events spiraled out of control.

I would encourage readers to start with Self's The Quantity Theory of Insanity because it introduces Busner in his early years & shows how the author's style has developed over the years. I've had 2 weeks of pure pleasure reading Quantity, Umbrella & Shark so I am off to read some Haiku to cleanse the palatte!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Writer Of His Time 29 Dec. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Shark is a double odessey with a dialectic between the two. It's a bit Joycean with no paragraphs and heavily reliant on baroque popular culture. Still, Self rings a few bells. A writer of his time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear 29 Jan. 2015
Dreary faux-modern, and boring as hell.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sharks on Acid 13 Feb. 2015
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Readers of Will Self’s previous (Booker shortlisted) novel Umbrella will find Shark more than a little familiar. We revisit psychiatrist Zack Busner, running an experimental Concept House, offering psychiatric patients a communal living arrangement without wards, locks and restraints. The style is similar to Umbrella, with long slabs of text, eschewing conventional paragraphing, punctuation or linear style. It’s like stream of consciousness on acid. In fact, very specifically, it *is* stream of consciousness on acid.

One of the particularly impressive feats of this style of narration is that it never draws breath. Whilst there are full stops, there’s no point where you can see a change of scene or a natural pause. Yet the reader does zip from scene to scene, time to time in the middle of sentences, in the middle of words. And it's all chock full of references. There are references within the references. Even when you know what is going on, it is hard to see how it is done. It is smooth and seamless, perhaps like the sharkskin fabric of which all the suits in the novel seem to be made.

However, whereas Umbrella had a very focused narrative beneath all the fog and choppy timelines, Shark does not. If anything, it seems to be a loose collection of short stories, each centring around one person who is, in some way, associated with Concept House on a particular day in 1970. The stories themselves might be from before 1970 (some wartime stories); during or after that date. Dates are seldom given; they must be inferred from events taking place in the wider world. Taken together, they might be supposed to create some sort of “state of the nation” narrative of the second half of the 20th century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 2 months ago by jeannie camm
1.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgence
What a self indulgent pile of tripe - I have enjoyed Will Self's stuff before - and love the Book of Dave - but life is too short to read rubbish like this . Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs Anne Molloy Mr Kevin Molloy
1.0 out of 5 stars Da-Da Da-Da !
Took it along to the beach with me for some heavy-duty reading but accidentally dropped it in the sea and caused a major panic along the coast of Thanet. My apologies.
Published 4 months ago by Mr. R. S. Garritty
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't understand? Try harder.
I find it incomprehensible that anyone would want to write a negative review on Amazon along the lines of: "I didn't understand it - the author is clearly at fault. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sir Ninian
1.0 out of 5 stars ... book has to qualify in any list of the worst books of 2014
This book has to qualify in any list of the worst books of 2014! Self is well-named as he appears to think that a mark of intelligence is to use words from a dictionary of those... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Montalbano
5.0 out of 5 stars Marmite
No surprise that the star ratings given for this book are either ones or fives, this is literary marmite. You will either love this book, or hate it. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ms. M. I. Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars Just remember books are like restaurants if it says Indian on the sign...
Just redressing the balance... yes it's a tricky read, yes it's going to challenge you, yes you have to be awake, concentrate and in my case use the dictionary a bit.. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Catboy Books
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