Monday, November 25, 2013

just like a real book

From: The New Yorker

S, the new mystery novel by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst, may be the best-looking book I’ve ever seen. From the outside, it looks like an old library book, called Ship of Theseus and published, in 1949, by V. M. Straka (a fictitious author). Open it up, though, and you see that the real story unfolds in Straka’s margins, where two readers, Eric and Jen, have left notes for each other. Between the pages, they’ve slipped postcards, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters—even a hand-drawn map written on a napkin from a coffee shop.
     To solve the book’s central mystery—who is V. M. Straka, really, and what does he have to do with Eric’s sinister dissertation advisor?—you have to read not just Ship of Theseus, but all of Jen and Eric’s handwritten notes. The book is so perfectly realized that it’s easy to fall under its spell. The other morning, I was so engrossed in a letter from Jen that I missed my subway stop. (The letter, handwritten on Pollard State University Library stationery, marked a turning point in Eric and Jen’s flirty, romantic relationship.)
     S is the unusual result of a collaboration between two unusual people. Abrams has written, created, produced, or directed dozens of films and television shows, including 'Felicity,' 'Alias,' 'Lost,' 'Fringe,' 'Person of Interest,' and two 'Mission: Impossible' films; he’s currently directing the new 'Star Wars' movie, which comes out in 2015.
     Meanwhile, Dorst’s previous novel, Alive in Necropolis, was a runner-up for the 2009 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award; he’s also won 'Jeopardy!' three times. If you want to write a romantic mystery meta-novel in which two bibliophiles investigate the conspiracy around an enigmatic Eastern European author, you couldn’t choose a better team.”
— Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
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