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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.
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.
S by JJ Abrams and Doug Dorst, review
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.
S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
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. Visionary writer who may outlast a fantasist one.
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The novel concludes without answer.
But the fiction has a second layer. In the suspiciously wide margins of the Straka novel we observe the counterpointed scrawls of Jen and Eric, two contemporary American students who embark together on a project to solve its many conundrums. Using the book as a kind of dead-letter box, they share chit-chat, textual insights, interpretations and eventually courtship, supposedly placing the volume back in the library stacks each time for the other to find.
As their meta-narrative takes shape, a whole new picture of the text emerges.
What is each of them hiding? And is the mysterious "S" organisation - a group of literary conspirators and agitators who may also be assassins - perhaps not as dead as it seems? As a writer and an ideas man, he long ago worked out the appeal of a good tentacular mystery in the age of instant information, as well as the collaborative thrill that comes with cracking a problem online. S comes with its own code wheel to tease out messages concealed in superscript letters or clusters of suspicious dates; various carefully-constructed e-grottoes extending its themes will presumably open their doors once it launches.
An unusually thoughtful ebook conversion even allows you to manipulate the inserted documents and turn textual annotations on and off with the press of a button. The book will be the darling of certain corners of the internet for the time it takes to bring its riddles to light. They discover things about each other, themselves and the world they didn't know before. It's a very interesting read. You could read only the book, but the fun comes from reading the book, jumping into the margins, back into the story, onto a letter.
It's dizzying, it's fun, it's unlike anything I've read. This book deserves to be held, and all the little things that come with it like maps, napkins, etc, deserve to be felt.
Highly recommended. Beautiful to look at, keeps you interested even when you turn the pages to the beginning for the 4th time!
Jen and Eric's story was great, but for me the main novel Ship of Theseus would've been also a really cool tale by itself. I shall not tell anything more.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.
He holds out his palm for his half of the organ-grinder's take.
Review: S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
What has V. The academic espionage continues with Straka artifacts going missing from international archives, and the mysterious death of a French professor soon after his own book on Straka's real identity is published. To produce it, we worked with an all-star team consisting of Abrams, Dorst, designer Paul Kepple of Headcase Design, and our publishing partner, Mulholland Books.
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