S

Originally published December 2014

Do you ever read a book and imagine who would play which part in a movie?

It’s almost a no-brainer when reading a collaboration between J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Plus, you know the movie would be badass, and that it would wrap with a “WTF?” ending.

S.” is not just a book, it’s a project—not daunting, but definitely something that commands your attention. It certainly got mine when I went to pick it up from the library. I wasn’t able to find it on the “hold” shelf” and when the very nice librarian handed me an oversized plastic case, I was immediately intrigued. What kind of book needs a case?

“S” does.

A story within the pages of a 1949 novel, “Ship of Theseus,” S isn’t just about an international man of mystery on a mission to assassinate dozens upon dozens of bad guys, it’s also the mystery about the author—the elusive V.M. Straka. And that mystery unfolds in the margins, as a relationship unfolds between an ex-grad student, Eric, and a college senior, Jen.

What it really is about, folks, is love. Just don’t ask me how to read it. Everyone has a different path. Mine was to read each chapter, then go back and read the margin notes. You just need to be careful to read them in order, as dictated by the color-coding. (There are entire websites devoted to this book, there’s plenty of help if you just ask Lord Google.)

So imagine, “S.,” starring …

  • Adam Driver as “S.,” the narrator of Ship of Theseus and man without a home, family or past. It’s an unknown future for S, trapped on a ship of mute (ugh, I won’t tell you why) sailors, uncertain of his destination or his purpose. Held (sorta) captive by …
  • Maelstrom, played by Robbie Coltrane, the ship’s defacto captain and person responsible for getting S to his various destinations. He claims to know nothing, but S is convinced he only knows the one person he really needs to find …
  • Sola, played by Parminder Nagra, S’s muse and the one person that re-appears in S’s travels. Is she real? A figment of his imagination? Or the literary parallel to V.M. Straka’s book translator …
  • F.X. (Filomena) Caldeira, played by Zoe Saldana, the woman responsible for putting the mystery author Straka’s words into English. It’s her footnotes throughout the novel that propel …
  • Eric, played by Chris Pine, into an obsession with Straka and his true identity—something that becomes his thesis work for Pollard State University professor …
  • Moody, played by Ron Eldard, also a Straka fan and as it turns out, a complete douchebag, in cahoots with …
  • Ilsa, played by Jennifer Garner, Moody’s assistant and T.A. to …
  • Jen, played by Elle Fanning, the burned-out college senior who finds Eric’s copy of “Ship of Theseus” and begins a margin-note adventure with him.

There’s an entire ensemble of characters within SoT, all with supposed parallels to Straka’s life and thus, the mystery for Jen and Eric to unravel as they read the book together. This is most definitely the book for the active reader, and thanks to Eric and Jen’s annotations, you’ll find yourself falling in love with the written word all over again. It really is about love—Straka and Filomena, S and Sola, Eric and Jen. You may even find your own love story within its pages. I did, here:

“We are we, and we have been we for a long, long time. And in that way, I am you.”

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