I was so enthralled with S. that I carried it around with me everywhere, showing it off to anyone who would listen. Thus far I’ve only had one convert , which perhaps suggests that the appeal isn't quite as wide as I’d initially expected. Nevertheless I remain utterly impressed and obsessed with this novel. The book is the work of a collaboration between author Doug Dorst and producer J.J. Abrams (of films such as Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, etc.).
The book comes in a black slipcover with the title S. imprinted across the top. Once the reader breaks the seal, out slips what looks like an old grey library book called the Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka. The text printed inside is the work of the fictitious author Straka, a mysterious writer whose identity is hotly debated and zealously researched in the literary community. Also printed in the book is the marginalia of two readers, Eric and Jen, who pass the book back and forth, writing to one another about what they are reading, what they have uncovered about Straka’s identity, as well as personal thoughts and feelings. Eric is a former Ph.D. student at Pronghorn University, who was recently expelled following an altercation with his thesis advisor. Jen is an undergraduate, a senior struggling with what path to follow post graduation. Their relationship unfolds within the walls of the library and the pages of Straka’s novel. In addition to the notes written in the margins, there are various other assorted items, napkins, postcards, etc. that the two characters have left between the pages.
As much as I would love to recommend that everyone go out and read it, I realize after a bit of thought that this isn’t the book for everyone. This is more up the alley of someone who really loves or has studied literature, appreciates physical copies of books, and has time to devote to the reading of it. The book is lengthy (the Straka version), and once you finish reading the page, you still have the footnotes, at which point you might have to reread the text again. It was slow going for me, but I savored every minute of it.