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Get Booked

Big names and newcomers delight in this collection of recent releases

By Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 20, 2013

Get Booked

S.

by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams
Little, Brown, and Company, 472 pp., $35

Doug Dorst wrote this book because J.J. Abrams had an idea. Dorst you may know because you've read or heard of his first novel, Alive in Necropolis, or his excellent collection of short stories, The Surf Guru. Abrams you know because Lost, because Star Trek, because duh; Abrams you can now know for having the savvy to team with a man who's turned his idea – "a romance occurs between two people writing in the margins of a book" – into a many-layered literary object that reads like something Edgar Allan Poe and Jorge Luis Borges might've penned after being enchanted by Griffin and Sabine. The main novel, called Ship of Theseus, is a creepy, symbol-heavy thriller from the Forties about a writerly cadre's possibly terrorist-related program activities throughout history; it's ostensibly written by the reclusive V.M. Straka. The margin notes flooding the pages are by two young academics, Jen and Eric, who become involved in the violent, real-world mystery of Straka as they communicate via the book as a sort of mail drop. The whole complex, gorgeously packaged thing is fitted out with collateral items – postcards, handwritten notes, photocopied records, a napkin from a campus cafe – and will, like a maelstrom, draw you deep into its weird and wordy demesne.

Perfect for: literary thrill-seekers, design mavens, fans of the maritime macabre


For a recent discussion with Doug Dorst and others, see "Doug Dorst puts the S. in 'Ship of Theseus' with this JJ Abrams Collaboration."

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