The Arrival of S. By J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

When I first heard about this book I was so intrigued I set about immediately to obtain a copy of my own. Our local Barnes and Noble didn’t have it, but they said they would search surrounding stores and call me back. Not one Barnes and Noble in the Chicago area had a copy to sell. I went online to Amazon.com  The copies there were out of stock. I checked with an Indie store in my town, who said they had one copy available, but when I arrived within the hour it was sold. The more barricades I encountered, the more I wanted it. 
It is an intriguing novel about: “One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace and desire. A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown.”


“The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V. M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a mysterious crew and launched on a distorting and perilous journey.”



Interspersed throughout the pages containing the novel, and the handwritten notes between the two readers, are slips of paper. Telegrams. Postcards. Napkins with hand drawn maps. It is indeed a work of great intrigue to me. I’m not even sure how to read it. 

Some people have suggested taking out each item, marking it with a post-it note and page number, and reading it when you come to it. Some people suggest reading the novel all the way through first, then going back to the handwritten notes. I’m not sure how I’ll go about it, and am certainly open to suggestions from you. I’m just glad I finally have it in my hands, thanks to alibris.com

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23 thoughts on “The Arrival of S. By J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst”

  1. Very intriguing… looking forward to hearing more about it. Maybe all the copies are holed away with my copy of Christmas at High Rising, which Amazon (ahem) still 'needs a little more time to find.' Isn't that adorable?

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  2. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and have it on my wishlist on amazon – but it never seems to be in stock 😦 I definitely need to get my hands on copy – it sounds so intriguing! I love that there are different ways to read it 🙂

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  3. Looks like great fun. Whenever I can't find a book I want like that I go to book depository.com They have everything and free postage anywhere in the world. Check their site if you haven't seen it. Amazon bought them out a year ago or so. Wonderful

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  4. I got this for Christmas, having known nothing about it before hand. My sister did a fab job of finding me a book! It takes a lot of concentration to keep track of all the story going on. I've started it, but going slow. I have to read the margins as I go, and I absolutely cannot ignore them. I read them first, because I find that the more interesting story. But, eventually I have discovered that the margin notes are following two time lines. Confusing!

    Enjoy, and let me know how you are getting along. It will take me a while to get this read. I'm loving all the papers inside it. Someone at librarything has listed and ordered the pieces that come in the book and what pages they belong to, incase of unfortunate accidents, ie dropping the book. This came about as someone got the book from the library, but their library had taken all the papers and put them in an envelope to accompany the book!

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  5. I have this on my wish list. My library actually has a copy, but I can't imagine I'd get all the included errata intact if I were to check it out, and I'm paranoid that I might be blamed for anything later found to be missing or damaged by a previous borrower.

    This reminds me a bit of the Griffin and Sabine books (the original trilogy and the second follow-up trilogy) by Nick Bantock, which are epistolary, but all the letters (and cards and postcards, etc.) are actual objects to be opened and read as opposed to printed on the book's pages. I LOVED these back in the early 1990s when they came out. I definitely recommend them to anyone who likes this sort of thing and doesn't mind a bit of fantasy, mystery, history and romance all mixed together.

    I can't wait to hear what you think of it S!

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  6. I bought this the week it was released but set it aside intending to read it while I was on vacation and might have time to devote to it. Well, that didn't happen and I still haven't opened it. I love your question about how to approach it. Looking forward to seeing what folks who have read it already have to say.

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  7. Wow, what a strange and unusual book! I haven't seen it in the UK yet, but then by the sounds of it, copies over here might be rare and hard to come by too. I'll be very interested to know how the experience of reading it turns out.

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  8. Yes, definitely sounds like a Nick Bantock type of book. Wonder how can they keep it in the public library and not lose anything from it? But most intriguing for me is…. J. J. Abrams? The director of Star Trek movies?

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  9. I was interested in this when I first heard about it, but it all sounded sort of gimmicky. Then again, though, I really loved House of Leaves, which was a similar sort of thing. I didn't know this one had extra documents. I can't wait to hear what you think!

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