A Story Unfolds in the Marginalia


After finding a paperback novel strewn on an airport bench with the note: “To whomever finds this book—please read it, take it somewhere, and leave it for someone else to find it” written inside, J.J. Abrams became fascinated with the “romantic idea that you could leave a book with a message for someone.”

Abrams partnered with Doug Dorst to produce “S,” a novel that includes the notes of two readers in the margins, as well as postcards, photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, and a map written on a napkin from a coffee shop. The book’s mystery can only be solved by piecing the clues from the text itself and the marginalia together.

As Dorst said in an interview with The New Yorker, “S” is “about the wonder of discovering a book. But it’s also about the wonder of discovering another person– the wonder that comes from feeling yourself getting to this place where your life is about to change, in a big way.”

Serena Candelaria is a Rumpus intern, and a self-proclaimed fiction addict. This summer, she worked at 29th Street Publishing and began writing a novella. She is currently a senior at Yale, where she studies Literature. More from this author →