Monday, January 20, 2014

Books on books on conspiracy theories on books on identities on books

Book: S

Authors: J. J. Abrams (creator) and Doug Dorst (writer)

Published: 2013 (Mulholland Books)

Pages: 456 

Through my journey of mediocre impulse pickups and compulsive re-readings, sometimes I forget why I like reading in the first place. Sometimes it becomes a hollow excuse for entertainment or a way to kill time because I’m too boring to think of anything else to do. But then I stumble across a difficult, engrossing narrative with a payoff that reminds me, hey, we’re mapping the entire human experience here. This is important.

S totally does that. It’s a metanarrative where you have a book written by a mysterious, reclusive, yet semi-famous in his time author, but the real story is in the margins where two lost college kids start scribbling notes to each other, first about their mutual love and analysis of the story, and gradually escalating to a real-life investigation into the intrigue of a writer-spy ring, current literary politics, and their own relationship.

It’s great – the story in the book itself is a surreal exploration of identity, loyalty, and heroism told in a magical realism that involves a recurring pirate boat and a lady the main character keeps seeing but can’t catch until the end. The story in the margins is perfect at building up hints and forward and backtracks and slowly revealing connections out of order until you get – well, I didn’t feel like I got 100% of that, and part of it was I’m paranoid there were some bits of stuff missing.

The book has various pieces of evidence tucked into the pages, like postcards and letters and “old” photos and the front page of a college newspaper, etc. It frankly makes this a bitch to read in a lot of the public places I like reading – tried to read it while jammed up against a table of lawyer bros when I treated myself to lunch the other week and ended up closing it and “concentrating on my pizza” (= listening to their weekend exploits while staring at the fried eggplant I was eating) instead. And I’m also paranoid that I don’t have all the pieces to give back to the library when I turn this in tomorrow.

But it was really worth it, and I loved how it made me concentrate on its subjects, and I would so recommend putting money into this if you have $35.00 for a new book. If you don’t, your public library totally has this on loan. You’ve got no excuse.  

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