Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Swag! I have a copy of S.

So Cool! I just got up a copy of S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorset. I have been lusting after this book since I first heard of it.

Here is the blurb from Amazon:
"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."

Interesting though kinda vague. So that is not what will capture your attention. But the inside !!!!   It is the production! The stuff. The feel. The smell (seriously, mine has old book smell, sort of, which is cool if really odd). 

The book is full of marginalia and has clippings and postcards and stuff tucked in there.  It is so cool!   I want to start reading it immediately but ACK work!  Must work!  Plus I have like three other books that I have started that I am trying to read.

  I used to work at a library and while I loath highlighters and modern notation - I find old notations and notations in privately owned books utterly fascinating. Plus handwriting used to be so much nicer. I really do think that loss of fine motor control is at least partly due to the chemical exposures now common in industrialized nations.

I have already read the warnings to pull out the inserts and tag them with page numbers so that it is easier to read the book without things falling all over the place.

S. has five principal "characters":
  • S. – The main character in the novel "Ship of Theseus"
  • V.M. Straka – the author of the novel Ship of Theseus.
  • The Translator (FXC) – a historian of Straka’s works who translates the novels and also pens commentary in the form of footnotes throughout Ship of Theseus.
  • Eric – a literary theorist
  • Jen – a student who finds Eric’s copy of Ship of Theseus

Now I am trying to figure out how to tackle this. There is the 'original' book Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka that some people advise you to read straight without looking at all the cool, colorful stuff and the margin notes (hard).

According to a reviewer at Amazon (who signed their review C.) Jen and Eric's notes are not entirely in chronological order. You have to go by color.  The reviewer advises the following ...

" First, there's Eric's pencil notes to himself about the actual book. Then, the convo [sic] between J&E begins when Jen picks up Eric's book and sees his notes and begins commenting on them in the margins. He sees this and writes back. Those early messages are Jen: Blue Ink - Eric: Black Ink

At some point after they go through the book a first time, they go through again. This time Jen: Orange Ink - Eric: Green Ink.

Then a third time Jen: Purple Ink - Eric: Red Ink

Finally, a fourth time (which seems to be after the denouement, in which they retrospectively discuss what has transpired). These are less frequent, and both Jen and Eric are in Black Ink.

***Read each chapter of the main text of SoT, ignoring all of Jen & Eric's notes. Upon finishing each chapter, you're going to want to go back and read only the blue/black notes and any referenced inserts. Then, move on to the next chapter. After you finish the whole book, go back and read only the orange/green notes and referenced inserts. Then purple/red, then black/black.***"

This is the first time I have ever felt the need for so much forward preparation to read a book.  Wow! 


  1. I can't wait to see what you think of this book. I'm not sure I'll ever read it myself (I gather that parts of it are or could be a bit disturbing, and sometimes I have a hard time getting things out of my head again.) But the whole concept is so intriguing, and it sounds like so much fun to go through and try to figure out what's happening.

    Re your side note: "I really do think that loss of fine motor control is at least partly due to the chemical exposures now common in industrialized nations." Maybe; I don't have the medical background or reading knowledge to have an opinion on that. But I'll bet it's also due in large part to the fact that much less time is spent in school on drilling handwriting than in my childhood, and it was less in my childhood than a hundred years earlier. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, just that it's a change that could account for an increase in poor handwriting over time.

    1. It is pure torture to have this book sitting there while I need to be working on a geochemistry lecture. I think it is going to be a real challenge to review.

      I agree that less time is spend in school on penmanship (sort of - my children certainly practice writing quite at bit), but looking at the literature, there does appear to be a decrease in fine motor control in children in industrialized nations. I hang out with toxicologists & epidemiologists (the seat us way off by ourselves in restaurants) and this is one of those things that we argue about. There just isn't the money out there for a good study really.


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