The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

This book had sat on my bookcase for about 18 months before I finally pulled it down to read it. Why in the hell did I wait? This novel is a superb work that tells the story of a 12 year old cartographer, Tecumsah Sparrow Spivet and his journey across the US to receive a prize for his work. The catch is that T. S. has been working anonymously and nobody knows he is only 12 years old.

Because T. S. has been hiding this secret, his journey must be taken alone. So, we see America not only through the eyes of a 12 year old boy making his own ideas, but we see it through the eyes of a cartographer. This makes the surroundings of America as big a character as Tecumsah himself.

The story is split between T. S. and his journey and his reading of his Mother’s journal about their family history. What comes from the novel is a lovely coming of age tale that is as funny as it is charming. T. S. is a wonderful central character and his journey is littered with pitfalls for such a young man. In fact later moments in the novel are actually quite dark and fantastical which brings a new level of excitement to the work.

Spivet’s narration is equally analytical and naïve which makes him utterly endearing to the reader. This is a boy who has grown up on a farm in the country and is now seeing things he never thought he would. This applies to both the cities he sees and the people he meets. T. S. learns so much that can be applied to everyday life and which we see on a daily basis and take for granted. He wants to explore the nuances of people and their surroundings, but soon finds that not everyone is as clear cut as the maps he creates.

This is a book that also highlights how some works could never be replicated on eReaders. The book itself is oversized and that’s because as T. S. writes his tale he is constantly drawing diagrams in the margins and adding footnotes that enhance the story and the cast within. Without these additions the novel would lose a lot of its charm, it’s a truly beautiful book on the whole.

4 thoughts on “The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

  1. Heather

    This sounds really good. I’d never heard of it before, so thank you for the review! I’m going to add it to my list of books to check out.

  2. buriedinprint

    Oh, I know that feeling but, on the other hand, it’s good that you kept it on the shelf that long, as it was clearly worthwhile to be taking up that precious real estate. And I agree that there is something particularly charming about a book like this in “proper” book form.

    1. Dog Ear Post author

      Yeah, sometimes it’s worth letting a book age and wait until you’re ready. Otherwise, you may dislike it for the wrong reasons.


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