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The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif…
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The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet (2009)

by Reif Larsen

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1,696874,206 (3.85)68
  1. 30
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (jensm)
  2. 20
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The precocious young narrators in each of these novels embark on journeys alone, providing illustrations to enhance their complex narratives, which include family history as well as current concerns. T. S. travels across the U.S, while Oskar travels throughout New York City.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
Brilliant until the weak and silly ending. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
Self-discovery or coming of age on a journey across the country is a richly-mined theme in American fiction, whether in Jack Kerouac or 'Rain Man'. Larsen adds a couple of twists to this genre in the form of T.S. Spivet, and I can see how the idea of a character who feels compelled to map - that is, to draw, document, and order - everything he sees could easily germinate alongside the travel narrative in the author's mind. The trouble for me, in the end, and the reason that I progressed so slowly in reading, perhaps, is that Spivet failed to touch too many strings of empathy. I found it difficult to connect with the hero. This may have something to do with Spivet's psychological characteristics, but compare and contrast with, say, 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time', and I feel this is not the full answer. No, the trouble as far as I see it is that the novel's novelty, which comprises adding notes and maps and drawings alongside the narrative as Spivet progresses on his way, was also a barrier to becoming immersed in the story as told. Some of the shorter asides were witty, insightful, and added depth, but too often they became protracted and drew me away from the main thrust of the journey. This is perhaps a trait that should be explored in relation to the character of Spivet himself, but I found it off-putting from a reading point of view. As one of the reviews on the back cover exclaimed, this book is a work of art as much as it is a story. The trick would be for the two elements to interfere less with each other's presence and flow, respectively. ( )
  Kanikoski | Sep 26, 2016 |
note that this is oversize, because of all the maps, diagrams, etc., in the margins - which definitely enrich the story so don't skip them...

The main character isn't even in puberty yet, but he 'maps' every aspect of his life, and has developed such skill in draftsmanship that the Smithsonian, not realizing he's a kid, invites him to Washington. He's innocently self-centered, and while smart enough to know his parents have their own lives, opinions, etc., he doesn't really take them into account as he decides what to do about this invitation. The margins are full of selections from his notebooks. Definitely a book aimed at patient adults (and shelved in the adult section at my library), but so far it's clean enough for clever teens.

Ok done. Dang this is hard to review. I absolutely loved the first two thirds or so. The premise, the character development, the insights, the unfoldings of the backstories, the first part of the Big Adventure... all was brilliant and enchanting. But the adventure in Chicago was too much, and then the book delved into metaphysical nonsense. Ok, I get that the kid is learning that adults are people too, and heroes are flawed, etc. But I don't get what made the author think we'd enjoy reading about such misbehavior and stupidity, after spending so much time with the young genius. How sad will his life become now, really. How sad, and angry, am I, about the mean trick Larsen pulled on me.

But still, there are quotes I feel compelled to share - first two from before Chicago:

Writing of maps & charts in general:
... the representation was not the real thing, but in a way this dissonance was what made it so good: the distance between the map and the territory allowed us breathing room to figure out where we stood."

Writing of a female scientist entering the male-dominated field:
"She was not to be dismissed - she would not slink quietly into the shadows to make way for the fat old men and their cigars."

In Chicago:
"In all directions, the tall buildings cut off the view to the horizon: it felt as if the structures were giant theatrical flats placed strategically to block my line of sight, so that I might forget what the rest of the world looked like. This is all there is, the buildings called out to me. "

Near the end:
"I suddenly had an idea of how adults can hold on to a feeling for very long periods of time, loong after the event is finished, long after cards have been sent and apologies made and everyone else had moved on. Adults were pack rats of old, useless emotions."

I know the boy has to grow up - but why can't he still be the kind of person who charts "Variations on Pea Anger Ovals" rather than one who joins a cabalistic secret society?
" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
An interesting story if a little distracting in the formatting of the book - all of the side notes take some time to get used to and sometimes distract from the main story. There were a couple of places I started to skim read when TS got onto a detailed / irrelevant tangent.
I was left with a few questions:
1) What is his mother playing at?
2) Was the story of his great, great grandmother true?
3) Why did his dad ignore him as he was leaving the house? (His mother could not have spoken to him as he didn't know about TS's work until later)

I found the idea of mapping everything intriguing especially intangible things like loneliness or shucking corn. ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
I was expecting this book to be quirky and interesting, but it was rather a chore to finish. The only reason I did finish it was to see if it would become quirky and interesting... ( )
  tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
"It is not down in any map; true places never are." -Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Dedication
For Katie
First words
The phone call came late one August afternoon as my older sister Gracie and I sat out on the back porch shucking the sweet corn into the big tin buckets.
Quotations
"Angela Ashford says [AIDS] are bad and that I probably have 'em."

Dr. Clair looked at Layton. The mancala pieces were still in her hand.

"If Angela Ashford ever says anything like that to you ever again, you tell her that just because she's insecure about being a little girl in a society that puts an inordinate amount of pressure on little girls to live up to certain physical, emotional, and ideological standards- many of which are improper, unhealthy, and self-perpetuating- it doesn't mean she has to take her misplaced self-loathing out on a nice boy like you. You may be inherently part of the problem, but that doesn't mean you aren't a nice boy with nice manners, and it certainly doesn't mean you have AIDS."

"I'm not sure I can remember all that," Layton said.

"Well then, tell Angela that her mother is a white-trash drunk from Butte." p. 37

I do love the sound of ripping corn husks. The violence of the noise, the sustained popping and shoring of the silky organic threads, made me think of someone tearing up an expensive and potentially Italian set of trousers in a fit of madness that this person might just regret later. p. 10
The moment that latch on my door ticked shut, I began agonizing. For the art of packing I changed into an athletic costume complete with sweatband and kneepads. This was going to be more difficult than the President's Fitness Challenge, in which I couldn't manage a single pull-up.
I put a little Brahms on the record player to calm the nerves. p. 77
How lucky I was to have grown up on such a ranch, such a castle of imagination, where hounds gnawed on bones and the mountains signed with the weight of the heavens on their backs. p. 350
"... A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected. To do this right is very difficult." - Mr. Benefideo, p. 138
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Book description
A twelve year old genius cartographer gets a call from the Smithsonian telling him he has won an award. A cross country adventure begins from Divide, WY as he maps, charts and illustrates his exploits, documents mythical wormholes and urban phenomenons and we begin to see the world thru T.S. Spivet's eyes. A family secret is revealed and as he nears his destiny, he discovers that shine and fame seem more highly valued than ideas in this new world, and friends are hard to find.
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This brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel traces 12-year-old genius map-maker T.S. Spivet's attempts to understand the ways of the world, taking T.S. on a journey from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the Smithsonian's hallowed halls.… (more)

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