S.: Margin Notes and Conclusions

"Interesting— affection between them is immediately apparent— even in such a strange context"
“Interesting— affection between them is immediately apparent— even in such a strange context”

Late last night I finally finished going through and reading the margin notes in S. Overall, this experience was definitely completely new and unique for me. The extent of reading I have done with margin notes before this point has just been notes in my university textbooks, and those were few and never personal notes.

Blue and Black

The blue and black notes were the first round for the two characters writing to each other in the margins. Primarily, these notes are about Ship of Theseus and the mysteries surrounding its author (with discussions about the translator as well), although there are a few that deal with the personal aspects of the characters’ lives. There are some interesting tidbits in these margin notes, although primarily I found a number of these dry. I believe that it’s because Straka doesn’t exist in our world—If he did, I imagine that the mystery surrounding his identity as well as the dates associated with everything would have been much more interesting to me.

Orange and Green

The second round of notes, the ones in orange and green, got a little more interesting to me as the personal relationship between those writing to each other started to grow, and more of the events happening due to their research (I unfortunately, can’t be too specific because it would spoil things, but needless to say some events are not “safe”, so to speak) were cropping up. I see this set of notes as a big transition for the two characters in between the simply academic nature of the blue and black and the third set of notes.

Purple and Red

These notes were pretty decent, in my opinion. I found that they were easier and more interesting for me to read than the rest of the book had been, so I ended up reading them much faster than the rest. I enjoyed how the relationship between the two characters was progressing in this set of notes from the previous two, and their banter was quite good. There were a few moments in this set of notes’ that had me with a smile/smirk on my face, which is always a good sign.

Black and Black

There aren’t as many notes to this final set, although they are still there (primarily later in the book, which was appreciated). My big gripe with this though is that I really couldn’t tell where the notes left off. These were more like a continuation of the purple and red notes, so I didn’t really see a distinct need to change the colours, but nevertheless it was interesting to see the two characters adding in new thoughts to their previous notes.

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Overall I think that S. was a decent novel, although for quite awhile I found myself forcing it. I may have given up at one point if I were the type of person to easily drop a book, but I always have an extremely hard time not finishing something. It’s not close to my favourite, but it is unique enough for me to recommend people to give it a shot if you enjoy reading. Really, the only difference for me is that a not-so-great book will simply take me quite a bit longer to read. That being said, after I got through the little “slump”, my interest in the book picked up and I flew through a large portion of the margin notes. This culminated in my favourite page (423). I will say this about that page though: if you can, DON’T read the notes until its time, if you are using the same strategy as me for reading S. It’s much better if you avoid it and then read it at the appropriate time. But, either way, that page will have you smiling like a lunatic.

The only thing that really left me wanting (and had no fix or redeeming moment) was that I have no idea where the notes left off with the last set. When did the characters decide to stop? How did things leave off? Were they successful in their research and the impending challenge that they faced through much of the notes? Where is their relationship exactly?

This was an interesting experience overall, and I hope that at least one of you is intrigued enough to give this book a shot. If you do, leave me a message letting me know what you think as you read!

Best Wishes,

Jessica

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S. : Ship of Theseus Round One Conclusion

The “library” book Ship of Theseus is essentially about an amnesiac who finds himself on a ship with the crew that sews their mouths shut with back thread (this provides some weird/disturbing images) and is then off on a mysterious adventure. I noticed that throughout the story water becomes very important both literally and metaphorically (not just because this man is on a ship), so I would pay attention to those mentions. I imagine that when I dig into the margin notes the importance will become clearer to me as I saw a couple instances being underlined—not 100% sure what these will reveal yet, but clearly something is up.

The story is definitely written in an older style—I recognized this from old/classic books that I have read for both personal and academic purposes. This style may not be for everyone, as at times it did become a bit tedious for me to work through without being distracted by the margin notes, and some points of the story didn’t seem as interesting as they could have been.

There were some great moments in the story itself that unfortunately I cannot describe without giving away some major spoilers, but once you have read the story (even without margin notes) I would be more than willing to go through what I have left out with you.

Unfortunately, the story overall didn’t pull me in as much as other books that I have read in the past, but I feel like the presentation and the margin notes that I have yet to read will make up for this. There are numerous inserts in the book that I am really looking forward to reading, and I will admit that I did occasionally read a margin note or too (in my defense there are a lot—I did avoid reading about (8% of the notes though, I think), and my interest is piqued.

In conclusion though, I think that Ship of Theseus itself is written well for its purpose as a 1949 novel (the style of cover and writing both work), and I do believe that I will be able to draw some great conclusions once I have made my way through the margin notes.

I will leave you with this:

“Get rest, so the world can start to make sense again. Survive the night. Then, maybe, find paper and pen. Write down what you know, and what you suspect about yourself—even if that won’t yet fill a single page. And then, maybe then, start piecing together who you are.” –  Ship of Theseus, V.M. Straka

Best Wishes,

Jessica

S. : Ship Of Theseus Round One Part One

I’m a little over halfway through my first round of reading S. (a reminder: I am reading the “library” book Ship of Theseus without the margin notes)—and oh my word, is it ever good. I won’t be revealing any major plot spoilers, but I will be talking about certain elements from the book in another context.

First off, there are a number of very intriguing thoughts and concepts in the story itself. Many of these lend themselves to be deep “quotable” phrases, although taking them out of context, in some cases, can reduce their effectiveness. I would like to try to investigate one quote (without spoilers) that won’t be comprised by taking it out of context. Basically, I’m going to take a short idea found in the text of Ship of Theseus and apply my thoughts (kind of like how I imagine the two individuals in the margin notes are engaging with certain passages in the book).

“We create stories to help us shape a chaotic world, to navigate inequities of power, to accept our lack of control over nature, over others, over ourselves.”

As you can clearly see, I love to write and actually I am currently working on my own novel. Incidentally, this novel is my main project over the summer. But, back on track here. From my experience, writing is for sure a way to make sense of this world, whether it is through fictional worlds or non-fictional pieces. With non-fiction, including academic pieces, organizing thoughts is the essential act. Like the phrase from Ship of Theseus indicates, we have a lack of control over a number of things. But writing our stories and creating the worlds within them happen to be things that we do have control over.

I could probably go deeper and more specific here, both with this quote and others, but I don’t want to draw on more of what I have learned from the book (just yet anyways) lest I spoil anything for you.

Note: I’ll be adding in more thoughts once I finish my first round. I just decided to break it up this time around as things have kind of slowed down for a bit and I didn’t want to leave people hanging for too long.

Best Wishes,

Jessica