Monday, January 20, 2014

First Impressions: S. by Doug Dorst & J. J. Abrams

So first off, I have not read this book.  The Kid got me S. for Christmas and all I've been able to do is just look at it and flip through its pages.  Actually, I should reiterate that all I have  done is to carefully turn its pages, not to disturb the contents that are between it's pages.

S. is, or at least appears to be an interesting experiment.  First off, it is a work of fiction, in that it is written and designed to look like an older library book titled Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka, complete with check out stamps dating back to October 6th, 1967 all the way up to October 14th, 2000.  I would not be surprised at all if at least some of the check out dates are either relevant to the story or world history in some way (go Wikipedia!).

Here is what I do know.  The fictional book, Ship of Theseus is the final book published by V.M. Straka.  That is the first story.  The second story is one that is related between two people who have found "something" within the story and its apparently mysterious author.  These two people have a conversation (regarding what specifically I do not entirely know, seeing as how I have not yet read the book) in the margins though out its entirety.  Plus there are footnotes by F. X. Caldeira and I have yet to decide if I want to read through first without reading the footnotes.  There are so many layers.

Now, here is where it really gets interesting.  Through out the book, there are various documents: postcards, newspaper clippings, photocopies, black and white pictures and cards containing Brazilian newspaper clippings from 1964.  There is even a compass/wheel cypher in the back of the book.  There has been so much work put into this book that it honestly boggles the mind.  Newspaper clippings are appropriately browned and have that old newspaper feel to them.  A copy of a local college's newspaper/newsletter is even not folded exactly in fourths, as how most people quickly fold a newspaper in fourths.  Even the ink that two (maybe more?) people conversing with each other in the margins changes color, possibly for a specific reason, or maybe because that is the color of pen that they had on the day they got the book back from the other.

I am honestly afraid to read this book anywhere except a table.  I am horrified to think of what I would do if the book were to fall and its contents fell out as I am certain that their placement within the book is very deliberate.  I am going to be that anal person that does not want some random person to pick the book up and start to fiddle with it, out of feat that items may get moved around.  I will not be taking this book to work to read it and I will not be reading it at night before going to sleep as I have the habit of falling asleep, quite literally with the book landing in my face (or the Kindle on Conklederps face, which has happened at least once).

Oddly enough, there is an ebook edition of S., and while initially I couldn't understand how it would work, I think that when there would be an inserted document, there would be a hyperlink to that specific document.  For me however, I want to be able to hold this postcard from Brazil or carefully unfold and examine that map written out on the back of a napkin (and yes, it real cafe paper napkin-type paper, logo of the cafe in multi-colored ink).  That is what I am talking about, total immersion.  The only thing that I can think of that would take me out of total immersion from the book, is that it smells like a new book.  There isn't that smell of a library and old pages that a book can only achieve after sitting on a shelf for no less than 50 years.  Do I often smell books?  If they are old, yes, I have been known to whiff a binding or two in my time.

I briefly looked at a review for the book over on Amazon (or was it Goodreads?) and the reviewer had their suggestion for how you should read the book.  You know what, I plan on reading the book in my own way without a walkthrough.  I want to discover the book in my own way.  I plan on reading the Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka, then after I will go through the book again, reading the notes made by the two people passing the book back and forth, going through the various inserts.  Then maybe I will read Ship of Theseus a second time with all that has gone back and forth in my mind to see if I take anything away from the book/story that I did not the first time around.

To say that I am excited to start reading this book is a bit of an understatement and I love that this book was actually able to be published.  I have not even read any of it yet and I already want to recommend it to everyone.  So yes, not having read the book, I fully recommend picking up the hardbound copy.  Do not buy it used as there may be some missing inserts or they may be in the incorrect spot in the book.  And at least one point while reading, give the binding a whiff, just for me.


No comments:

Post a Comment