S. (2013) – Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams


This week’s book was a wonderful, experience, part art, part mystery, part collectible, all enjoyment.

Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams collaborated to create this wonderful book, that once removed from its protective slipcase, for all intents and purposes, looks like a library book. The book is titled The Ship of Theseus by V. M. Straka, and within its pages lies a strange adventure. The narrative follows the tale of a man, with no memory of his own life,  known only as S., as he is shanghaied onto a strange ship, filled with a terrifying crew, and sets out on a strange journey that sees him against a powerful enemy and seeking a woman he longs to be with.

But that’s not all there is to this book, the margins are filled with another story, as two people find each other through the book, leaving messages for one another, commenting on the story, and getting drawn into the mystery of who the author really was, and compiling the evidence for it, while around them, forces begin to move against them. Meet Eric and Jen. Eric has been studying the book since his youth, and has been making notes in the margins, and when Jen finds it in the university library, the two begin interacting back and forth through the margins.

There are three different dialogues through the book, indicated by the different inks. They also take place during different timelines as the couple find themselves enmeshed in a decades old mystery, and one that it seems even now someone may be willing to kill or at least threaten for.

Also interspersed throughout the book are letters, photographs, postcards, even napkins that expand on not only the mystery that the pair are trying to resolve, but also as the two begin to open up and share their stories with each other.

Look Inside

It’s all about communication and the written word, as we follow the narrative of S. and the hunt to discover the true identity of the author, and his story. Some of the story itself can be a little dense, but the interactions, and the development of the relationship between Eric and Jen through the pages is really enjoyable to see happen.

There are a couple of ways to read this book, reading the narrative on its own, and then circling back to read the footnotes, and the messages in order. I just dove in and kept all the threads separate in my brain, watching as they all connected forming a larger image of what was going on.

The narrative, as mentioned, is a little heavy, but seeing how swept up Jen and Eric get just got me fired up as well, and looking for the clues and codes, which the book and the accompanying material are full of.

Just be careful if you go outside with this book, there are lots of little pieces that can be lost, but it was definitely a fantastic experience, and to see the way all the stories unfold and weave together, referencing one another, and digging for clues…

A lot of fun.



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