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Authorial certainty Options
miskatonic92
Posted: Monday, December 6, 2010 2:52:41 PM
Rank: Fry
Groups: Shoal

Joined: 12/6/2010
Posts: 1
Location: Philadelphia
Hi, Steven.

First of all, a great big heartfelt thanks for The Raw Shark Texts; I haven't been so moved--really shaken up--by a book in quite some time. You did a very special thing.

My question for you, if you've the time and inclination:
A half hour's perusal of the forums makes pretty clear how much room you've left--or, maybe, how much room we as readers have claimed--for variant interpretations of the book's ending. I enjoyed reading people's thoughts, though, of course, I found some reconstructions more plausible than others.

Most of all, however, I found myself surprised: by the lengths people had gone to in their attempts to clarify the ambiguity the novel's ending seems to leave. I've thought some about the resonances between, for example, Scout and Clio, but something in me resists the idea of fixing their relationship in any very concrete fashion. It may be idiosyncratic, but my reaction to the book's ending was if anything strengthened by my experience of it as, I dunno, a color and a feeling, rather than a straightforward narrative.

I mention all this by way of preface, or maybe better contrast, since your own comments--regarding world-building, and the availability of clues in the novel and negatives to Scout and Eric's fate--seem to point to the existence of a "right" answer, or at least an answer you've accepted. Am I reading you correctly? Did you leave yourself room in your own head for the sort of ambiguity I, and I imagine some other readers, have actually savored, or is the thing resolved in your mind? I'm curious, partly because it's always interesting to know if there's a real "canonical" answer, whether or not it's ultimately published; but more powerfully, because I wonder which is the more satisfying for the author of this marvelous book, whose relationship with the characters is necessarily pretty intimate. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
Steven Hall
Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 11:11:56 AM

Rank: Whale Shark
Groups: Shoal , Whale Shark

Joined: 1/24/2009
Posts: 416
Location: UK
miskatonic92 wrote:
Hi, Steven.

First of all, a great big heartfelt thanks for The Raw Shark Texts; I haven't been so moved--really shaken up--by a book in quite some time. You did a very special thing.

My question for you, if you've the time and inclination:
A half hour's perusal of the forums makes pretty clear how much room you've left--or, maybe, how much room we as readers have claimed--for variant interpretations of the book's ending. I enjoyed reading people's thoughts, though, of course, I found some reconstructions more plausible than others.

Most of all, however, I found myself surprised: by the lengths people had gone to in their attempts to clarify the ambiguity the novel's ending seems to leave. I've thought some about the resonances between, for example, Scout and Clio, but something in me resists the idea of fixing their relationship in any very concrete fashion. It may be idiosyncratic, but my reaction to the book's ending was if anything strengthened by my experience of it as, I dunno, a color and a feeling, rather than a straightforward narrative.

I mention all this by way of preface, or maybe better contrast, since your own comments--regarding world-building, and the availability of clues in the novel and negatives to Scout and Eric's fate--seem to point to the existence of a "right" answer, or at least an answer you've accepted. Am I reading you correctly? Did you leave yourself room in your own head for the sort of ambiguity I, and I imagine some other readers, have actually savored, or is the thing resolved in your mind? I'm curious, partly because it's always interesting to know if there's a real "canonical" answer, whether or not it's ultimately published; but more powerfully, because I wonder which is the more satisfying for the author of this marvelous book, whose relationship with the characters is necessarily pretty intimate. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!




Hi there,

Thanks very much, I’m glad you enjoyed the book.

The answer to your question is ‘both’. The ambiguity of the book is central to its function, and I would never want to stamp a ‘correct’ reading onto other people’s interpretations of the novel. The book is intended to empower the reader and to invite them to make certain leaps of faith, and through this arrive at readings of the book based on the kind of reader they are. Savouring the emotional logic and leaping over reality-based anti-logic is a very fine reading and relationship to the story, I think.

For people who like answers, the hardback book was constructed with several paths of interpretation open to readers should they be the kinds of people wish to walk them. None of them are perfect and each requires its own leaps of faith at certain points in the story. An extremely driven reader who wants to read all the extra material and try to get to the bottom of things may discover that one of those paths has more weight to support it than the others. Does that make it ‘correct’? Well, the tension of not quite knowing and awareness of the other possibilities is always a part of every path. Always there is a judgment call on the part of each individual reader and a leap of faith (either well-informed, or into the blue) to be made. The point is to get to the answer that satisfies you, however long or short a path that might be. Whether your preferred solution = the most probable outcome based on carefully exploring all the evidence (and if you want to dig, there’s a ton of available evidence to be found), the one that has the strongest emotional resonance for you, the one that makes most logical sense given the type of reader you are (or the type you are not prepared to be), or the pleasure of ambiguity itself – it’s your call what your relationship with the story ultimately is.

There is a solution that I personally believe to be 'true', and it is that path that has a little more weight than the others, but what (if any!) importance people should put on that not for me to say.

I hope this helps!

All best wishes,

Steven
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