A few weeks ago J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions dropped a mysterious black and white trailer into our laps. Stunts like this aren’t exactly unusual for a guy who has made obfuscation a routine part of his standard business routine. Many people assumed that this was a book trailer for a novel called S. by Doug Dorst, which Abrams helped bring along. A new video currently making the rounds confirms these suppositions as fact.
This video definitely sports a serious Twilight Zone vibe, what with its monochrome color scheme, ominous tone, and esoteric feel. And in true Abrams fashion, it doesn’t say much about the actual subject at hand, but there certainly is a lot of enigmatic whispering going around. But luckily for those of you who are interested, there is some additional information about the book.
According to EW, who debuted the video, S. tells the story of the relationship between a graduate student named Eric and senior in college named Jennifer. These lovers, who you have to assume face all sorts of obstacles, trade notes in the margins of a 1949 novel by an author named V.M. Straka. The book contains this novel, as well as these notes, which the book flap describes as “a conversation that plunges them into the unknown.” There are also “dozens of pieces of ephemera between the pages like newspaper clippings and a napkin with a map drawn on it.” Across all of these various platforms the novel will unfold a twisting mystery. When the trailer whispers that the book is just the beginning, that’s most likely what they’re talking about. The story is the base, and everything else helps build the story on top of that.
If this sounds familiar, then you’ve probably read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. That book is a sprawling, layered narrative made up of pieces brought in from seemingly disparate genres, including clips and footnotes, and somehow threaded together into a coherent vision. It can be a long, often trying read—one section spirals, literally, through the book as if being drilled through the pages—but it worthwhile and brilliant venture to undertake. I can’t help but feel that what Abrams is getting at will be a watered down version of this, made more palatable to a mass audience with his overriding pop sensibilities.
And maybe that whole lip stitching thing from the video is meant to serve as a stern warning of what could happen to talkative Bad Robot employees who divulge information about Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Talk out of turn they’ll hunt you down and sew your face shut.
For good or ill or otherwise, you can purchase your very own copy of S.—shrink-wrapped so that none of the extra stuff falls out—on October 29.