We Read to Know We Are Not Alone

This quote, by William Nicholson, perfectly describes the experience of reading JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst’s novel “S.” This thing takes the “book within a book” trope to a whole new level.

Here are the layers:

1) The slipcase with “S” and Dorst and Abrams on it.

2) The novel inside, “Ship of Theseus,” by the made up author VM Straka, whose identity within the world of the novel is unknown.

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3) The novel is itself a translation by an unknown translator

4) The novel is a fake library book, stolen by a teenager who is now a graduate student.
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5) The owner of the novel and a young woman exchange notes in the margins, having conversations, leaving stuff between the pages for one another to read.

6)  The marginal notes appear to come in at least 3 sets, written at different times in different colors of ink.

Six layers of not being alone. Story intertwined with story.

The kids write to each other in the margins. The translator writes footnotes that are coded messages to the author of the original novel. And the reader opens it up and peeks into these lives. Everyone, reading and writing to make contact with others. To feel less alone.

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