J.J. Abrams’ Latest Mystery Box Is Probably Book-Shaped


Writer/director/producer/star of Six Degrees of Separation/professional liar J.J. Abrams gave us a tiny little peek inside his self-proclaimed “mystery box” yesterday with the release of whatever the hell is going on in this teaser trailer. Speculation, of course, ran rampant. Was it a new television show? A new film? Absolutely nothing at all, just Abrams having a bit of fun with everyone while he should be working on the next Star Wars film? It could be anything! Anything!

What we forgot to consider, however, was that it could be anything. Like a book. Like a book Abrams has been planning alongside author Doug Dorst for whole years now, and one that already has a fall release date. Leave it to the good people over at Bleeding Cool to begin to unravel the mystery of a new Abrams venture that’s been so boxed up (you know, mystery-style) that we nearly forgot all about it. The BC crew did some digging, eventually landing on a promotional postcard for “S.,” as shared by The Huffington Post back in May, one that used a font very similar to the one that appears at the end of the so-called “Stranger” teaser.

But wait! There’s more! Just what the hell is “S.” about? And what does Abrams himself have to say about it? We just so happen to know, because we have our own letter from Abrams on the subject.

First of all, here’s how secretive “S.” is so far – Dorst and Abrams signed a deal with Little, Brown way back in 2011 and, despite its imminent release date this October, anything resembling a hard and fast plot detail has yet to be divulged. Even more insane? The book’s cover hasn’t even been revealed yet. But that cover might not matter, because there’s apparently going to be so much stuff inside the novel that just one hardcover won’t do it justice. No, really, there’s going to be actual stuff. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first thing we know about “S.” comes straight from its publisher, as Michael Pietsch, executive vice president and publisher of Little, Brown explained in the years-old press release announcing the book that “Doug and J.J.’s story will explode the bonds of the novel in ways no book has ever done.” Whoa, there, Pietsch. Keep it in your pants.

The book will be released through Little, Brown’s Mulholland Books imprint, and their own blog uses language that’s both vague and hyperbolic to entice readers to pick up the mystery book, writing “At the core of this multilayered literary puzzle of love and adventure is a book of mysterious provenance. In the margins, another tale unfolds—through the hand-scribbled notes, questions, and confrontations of two readers. Between the pages, online, and in the real world, you’ll find evidence of their interaction, ephemera that bring this tale vividly to life.” Ephemera! Stuff! Online and in the book and in the real world—and we’re exhausting by this thing already.

Back in June, I visited the Book Expo America show floor in New York City for MSN’s Page-turner book blog, a venture that turned up all sorts of fun book information, including a copy of Little, Brown’s fall catalogue. Unlike the rest of the books presented in the catalogue, Abrams and Dorst’s project still didn’t include a look at the cover (though, the book’s spread did include the relatively benign detail that it will clock in at 352 pages, do with that what you will). Instead, a neatly typed letter from Abrams was splashed on the page, a letter that includes a small story about using books to connect with people, before Abrams transitions into calling his own work “a celebration of the form” that also is “celebrating modern and classic language all at once.” Abrams wants us to celebrate! This thing that he has helped make!

Abrams S. letter

Call us when there’s an actual book to read.

You can pre-order “S.” over at Amazon. The book will be released on October 29th.



Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for VanityFair.com, Cosmopolitan.com, RollingStone.com, Vulture, MTV.com, Details.com, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and Film.com. She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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