Tuesday, 23 December 2014

frame story or ship of theseus

Already condemned after violating a couple of canon-rules when trying his hand with the latest iteration of the Star Trek universe, a lot of fans have girded themselves for the worst as the producer takes over the helm for the Star Wars franchise—however, as I have discovered, and really just down to the wire as I just finished the engrossing and complex novel that H gave me for Christmas last year—not that it was due to expire or that a sequel is forthcoming, just that I wanted to finish it and the pace quickened as I neared the end—screen-writer JJ Abrams can direct a really fine book and surely deserves some faith.
Co-authored with Doug Dorst, S or the Ship of Theseus is an epistolary novel, a story told through letters, primarily, but with the substantial subtext of the correspondence taking place on the pages and in the margins of a Bildungsroman, beloved and familiar to both of the main characters but grow to appreciate it more as their complimentary notes uncover more details and clues about the possible identity of the mysterious, semi-legendary anarchist author himself. It was a really fun and involved experiment that was quite an undertaking, not only in creating the parallels that stand on their own merits as plotlines but also a very accomplished work in terms of type-setting and book-binding: not only does the novel have the heft, appearance and smell of a much circulated library book, there are also numerous other artefacts tucked between the pages—postcards, newspaper clippings and even a decoder. The layers of action reminded me a little bit of The Never-Ending Story, and while I do not believe that the marginalia detracted from the reader’s imaginations, I also do not feel that every story might benefit from such a telling—though I think it is an interesting projection of the way we maybe read things—unafraid to mentally highlight certain passages for instantaneous research to their conclusion and cite our own footnotes.