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S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Like all things Abrams, S is dripping with mysteries, conspiracies and questions. Its jist is that you're reading. Melcher Media was faced with an unparalleled opportunity when director J. J. Abrams and his team at Bad Robot approached us about bringing his first book. S. di J. J. Abrams e Doug Dorst: la recensione su Badtaste! Jj Abrams. Abrams e Doug Dorst: la recensione su Badtaste! Francesca Crescentini.
Caldeira, who wrote an introduction and the footnotes. Caldeira was the sole translator of Straka's works from on, but never met the writer in person. Caldeira is supposed to be a Brazilian who died in his own home town in The margin notes come in five different sets, representing five different time periods.
First are penciled marks and brief remarks, made by Eric at about age He stole the book from the library--so presumably his is the last due date stamped in the back, October 14, Twelve years later, Eric's book is found by Jen Hardway, an undergraduate at the fictional Pollard State University, who works at the library. Jen found the book, read a few chapters and returned the book to a library workroom with a note. Later, Jen switches to yellow, and Eric responds in green.
Still later, Jen writes in purple, Eric in red. Finally, they both write in black ink. At any given time on the page, you might be reading from any of these five time periods, plus Caldeira's editorial notations. Add in the original text, and suddenly as a reader, you are keeping track of seven different time streams.
It's almost like Minard's famous map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign of The timeline is even more complicated, if you accept that Caldeira and Straka exchanged drafts of the work, translating even before the book was complete--and that Caldeira finally ended up reconstructing or inventing parts of the incomplete final chapter.
So what is this book?
S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
What has V. Straka written that has caused academics to search for his true identity? It intrigued Jen enough that she started corresponding with Eric the owner of the book and soon burned through all nineteen of Straka's works. Good question. What Dorst has done is create a convincing pastiche of early 20th century modernist political literature. S's page is folded and wet, soaked into an indistinct mass, marked with the Gothic S.
He believes if he could read those pages, he might discover something of his identity and past. He might, if S is a fictionalized Straka--it's perhaps a clue to who S is supposed to be, but one he never solves for himself. The owner. He holds out his palm for his half of the organ-grinder's take. The organ-grinder does not yet understand the local currency, so eh hands his cigar box of coins to the owner, asks him via hand gestures and sentence fragments to do the stacking and splitting for him.
The owner makes two piles. He pushes the taller stack across the table to the organ-grinder. The shorter stack, which is worth much more this, apparently, being a city of ancient and flawed arithmetics as well , he sweeps into an open drawer.
The organ-grinder, who understood when he rented the organ that this unscrupulous man would cheat him at any opportunity, has anticipated such a trick and has stashed away a portion of the day's take. Those coins, wrapped inside a handkerchief, are snug in the pocket of the tattered red coat worn by his capuchin monkey…. The owner, of course, suspect that the organ-grinder has done this.
It's not a new trick to him. Once the immigrant leaves the shop, the owner will direct his slow-witted but strong armed sons to follow the man through the night, as long as it takes, until he gives himself away--perhaps when he ducks into an alley beside a tern and empties the monkey's pockets, at which point the sons will hold him down in the street and crush his wrist bones to dust with led pipes.
They will catch the fleeing monkey by it's rope and try to sell the beast inside the tavern. No one will want it, of course.
Eventually, the brothers--now quite drunk--will go out to the docks, tie something heavy to the other end of the rope, and test how well monkeys can swim. A spiral of deception and greed, then ends to no one's benefit. The owner gets additional coins, but no further rentals from this man, the man's ability to work is destroyed, and the monkey dies.
Only the brutish sons benefit, in that they get to become drunk. It is no coincidence that there are nineteen organs to rent--nineteen is a recurring number that stands for Straka's group of radical labor activists, who constitute a group called confusingly "The S" in Straka's "real" life. The story of the organ renter is replicated in the larger story of the protests against the arms manufacturer Edvar Vevoda--which is itself a fictionalization of Straka's efforts against arms manufacturer Bouchard.
The boat has nineteen sailors, who all have their mouths sewn shut, but who spend their off duty time writing. Time passes differently on the boat, so when S next lands, several years have passed. He gets swept up into a demonstration against Vevoda which turns deadly.
Vevoda's own brown coats plant a bomb to discredit the labor movement.
S escapes with four labor organizers who are versions of Straka's own compatriots. In their attempt to escape, the other four are all killed. Only S survives, and when he returns to the ship, there are only 15 sailors. The story continues with eerie occurrences, semi-magical locations, and S's own obsession with the woman from the tavern who has several names. S muses on his own identity--will he be able to remember who he is, or is he only who he has become?
If S replaces whoever he had been with all the actions he takes in the book, does the old S even exist any more? If is were a "real" novel, really written by a writer named Straka, it's not something that would interest me particularly, because it's a justification of why labor has to take up arms against capitalists, and Straka apparently murdered a fair number of people in his day.
It reads like early 20th century political struggles that ended with the recognition of the right to unionize. Important, certainly. Timely again, as "right to work" laws proliferate and union membership drops.
It's kind of an extended self-justification, and not a topic I would pick to read myself, even with the eerie fantastical elements. But that is not the whole story.
There are several other stories superimposed on this one--"Palimpsest upon palimpsest" as the book puts it at one point. The first additional story, chronologically, is that of F. Caldeira, the translator of the book. Popularly supposed to be a man, over the course of the book Jen and Eric discover that F.
Her footnotes in this volume are eccentric, and are revealed to be coded messages for Straka, published in the belief that his Havana death in was a hoax and that he might look for her. She passes on some information about who was the mole in "The S" who gave away some of their members.
She codes her love for Straka and where she might be found. Eric tracks her down, as she is still alive and alert, and answers some of Eric's questions. Chronologically, the earliest is the story of Eric, a grad student working on the question of Straka's real identity. Eric's advisor is a professor named Moody, and he had a relationship with a fellow grad student named Ilsa.
Moody has apparently stolen Eric's scholarship, with Ilsa's help, in order to bring out his own work on the authorship question. Eric acted out, vandalized one of the buildings on campus, and ended up in a mental hospital for a while.
Now, he haunts the campus, trying to avoid being reported, while he continues to work on the question of "who was Straka?
She is suffering from a serious case of senior slump, and finds renewed passion in reading Straka's novels and working out Caldeira's embedded ciphers. Her coursework suffers, her parents worry and attempt to intervene. Her interest in Straka gets Ilsa's attention, and there are some threats to her own safety.
If you want to read this book absolutely cold, please venture no further, and know only that I really liked it. The mysterious man known only as S. After a brief encounter with a beautiful woman named Sola, S.
Soon, S. Most called him, whoever he was, an anarchist, terrorist and a Red for standing up against encroaching militarization and the arms race at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Others, including his editor F. Caldeira, take a more subtle approach to his politics and supposed mysterious nature. Eric and Jen are two young people attending Pollard State University: Eric is a disgraced grad student formerly of the English faculty and Jen is an undergraduate working at the campus library on the side.
The two use the book as a dead-drop for conversation, with notes and indicia covering the pages as they try and figure out the mystery of the author and his single-lettered protagonist while learning more about each other.
The book is perhaps the best argument I can think of lately for why books on paper can still be so magical. I can only imagine just how complex and challenging it was to create this book, containing as it does a pitch-perfect realization of a s-era text, combined with present-day notes written in pen all over the pages, and various items stuck inside the pages.
It even has the library sticker on the spine! Hilariously, the book also purports to be available in ebook and audiobook form.Does each chapter have a cipher? I added the lens flare in honor of Mr.
He gets swept up into a demonstration against Vevoda which turns deadly. The various media that tell the story of S. It's a very interesting read. JJ Abrams: Your reward for finishing the book is a love letter to the Book.
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