Chapter 5 "Down, and Out", is extremely gripping in a 39 Steps kind of way. However the big reset at the end of the chapter was not won.
This kind of trick is reasonable in genuine esoteric European literature but since this is ersatz, it feels a bit of letdown.
One detail that is a little incongruous is that at one point the characters eat a venison and cranberry pie which seems quite American.
The Ship of Theseus story uses a lot of tricks to try and prevent itself being locked in a particular time and place. Placenames are struck out and the details of the background are carefully placed to be pre or post fin-de-siecle. There are steam trains and ships but as yet no cars.
It also uses the conceit of having been translated into American English to get away with some odd turns of phrase.
My copy, after travelling around with me for a bit is starting to acquire a bit of battered personality beyond that created for the book itself.
The book only really works as physical object and for me indicates the niche purpose that the printed book now occupies.
I have been given the Ship of Theseus as an Easter gift, which an amazing surprise. Immediately however you are confronted with the challenge of how you are meant to read it.
After reading the annotations in the title pages I have decided to try and take three passes at it. First to read the novel "as written", then tackle the translator's footnotes, then finally the marginalia.