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- Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
- Format: Hardback | 472 pages
- Dimensions: 165mm x 248mm x 41mm | 1,074g
- Publication date: 29 October 2013
- Publication City/Country: Edinburgh
- ISBN 10: 0857864777
- ISBN 13: 9780857864772
- Edition statement: Main
- Sales rank: 2,900
One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace and desire. A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown. The Book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V. M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched on a disorienting and perilous journey. The Writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world's greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumours that swirl around him. The Readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they're willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts and fears. S., conceived by filmmaker J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don't understand. It is also Abrams and Dorst's love letter to the written word.
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Emmy Award-winning filmmaker J.J. Abrams has produced, directed, or written films and television shows including Fringe, Lost, Alias, Felicity, Star Trek, Cloverfield, Super 8, Mission: Impossible, and more. Doug Dorst teaches writing at Texas State University-San Marcos. He is author of the PEN/Hemingway-nominated novel Alive in Necropolis and the collection The Surf Guru. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Ploughshares, Epoch, and elsewhere. Dorst is also a three-time Jeopardy! champion.
By Alex Pennini 27 May 2014
I first heard (or more accurately, I saw) of S. when I visited a bookshop in my homecity. I'd been a fan of literature that broke the boundaries of what it meant to be a book. House of Leaves, Only Revolutions, John Dies at the End, I liked books that broke the mold of what it meant to be a book. And S. does that.
The best way to describe S. is this: Imagine you picked up a second hand book and found writing in the margins. Imagine you left your own writing in response, and then you put it back. Then the original owner started talking to you, and you began a correspondence through the margins of a book.
That's what this is. A college senior named Jen finds a copy of an old book called Ship of Theseus that belongs to a disgraced college student called Eric. They begin to talk to each other in the margins, leaving each other notes, letters, maps, postcards, etc.
The book they write in, Ship of Theseus, is actually a book you could read without paying any heed to the margins. But Eric and Jen are interested in the author, an enigmatic man by the name of V.M. Straka, who which the world knows nothing about (partially based on B. Traven, a real life author who which the world knows nothing). They want to know who VMS was, why he wrote his final book, Ship of Theseus, and they delve into that world together in the margins. They discover things about each other, themselves and the world they didn't know before.
It's a very interesting read. You could read only the book, but the fun comes from reading the book, jumping into the margins, back into the story, onto a letter. It's dizzying, it's fun, it's unlike anything I've read. I highly recommend buying the physical version of this book, rather than a Kindle/Ebook version. This book deserves to be held, and all the little things that come with it like maps, napkins, etc, deserve to be felt.
By David Lajko 21 Mar 2014
I really really enjoyed this book - or I'd rather call it experience. Beautiful to look at, keeps you interested even when you turn the pages to the beginning for the 4th time (!). Jen and Eric's story was great, but for me the main novel (Ship of Theseus) would've been also a really cool tale by itself. I shall not tell anything more. If you like mysteries, but also have a sense for art, buy it! It's a jewel in my collection. How many of your books have a napkin in them with a map on it? :) Definetely read this!
* Filled with secrets and stories that are endlessly beguiling and inviting Wired * S. is at the heart of Abrams' aesthetic vision ... Not only do we get a novel, Ship of Theseus, purportedly by a `VM Straka` - about a man shanghaied onto a mysterious boat with a demonic crew - the copy in the reader's hand is heavily annotated by two other readers, Jennifer and Eric, who are attempting to make sense of the text and themselves, as well as the enigmatic figure of Straka himself. Interleaved into it are countless pieces of ephemera: postcards, telegrams, a map scribbled on a napkin from the Pronghorn Java coffee shop ... S., in its elegant slipcase, is the mystery box that can be opened without dispelling its mystery. It is as much of a love letter to the form as Super 8 was a homage to the films of Spielberg -- Stuart Kelly Guardian * It genuinely feels as if you, as the reader, have stumbled on a literary relic, the sole copy of a twisted conspiracy ... that sense of wonder that has driven Abrams' entire career is found on every page of S. Scotland on Sunday * A book you long to share with others Metro * S. is not a normal book New York Times * Genuinely awe-inspiring Independent * What we have is a new kind of book which is, in essence, a very old kind of book. As they say in Abrams' Hollywood, it's so crazy it just might work Financial Times * Astonishing -- Mark Lawson, BBC Front Row