Customer Reviews for

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    Poignant story for BIG thinkers, young and old.

    My 13 year-old son and I read this over the summer. After listening to the author on NPR one morning I was compelled to pull into the B&N immediately. At my suggestion the book was included on the summer reading choices for the middle school. One teacher made a comment about being a first book and there were a few common 'first book mistakes' but this comment paled compared to the praise overall. The page size (oversied) and the spacing between lines is briliant as a rest for the eye and a rest for the brain. His use of footnote information in the outer margins is exactly the way I think people 'think', laterally.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

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    A brilliant journey that tips its hat to the best of Stephen King and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis....

    From the conversations with himself to the scientific moments he has with others, T. S. Spivet takes us with him on his cross-country journey to better understand the importance of legacy, tradition, and sacrifice. A great read, especially if you are a fan of Pynchon, King, Emerson, and C.S. Lewis!

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Spivet coming of age

    Reif Larsen has written an excellent coming of age novel about a young boy growing up in Montana. The boy T.S. is an artist and curious about many things which he jots down notes and data about. The marginal notes are great fun and remind one of the classic Ernest Seton Thompson's book, Two Little Savages. His acceptance of the fictional Baird Prize for his ilustrations from the Smithsonian gives him an opportunity to travel on his own to Washington, D.C. His adventures are exciting and stimulating to a young reader.
    His election to the Megatherium Club of Smithsonian resident workers is an accurate description of a group who lived and worked once in the Smithsonian Castle many years ago.
    I suspect that Larsen had read Gore Vidal's miserable and poorly written 1997 novel "The Smithsonian Institution" and has done a much better writing job. The hero of Vidal's novel is called simply "T".
    The stimulation of imagination makes this a fine novel for curious and intellectually gifted teenagers. Would make a fine Xmas gift for your favorite teenager. I have listed other books a teenager would enjoy. One your products list does not have is The Magic Garden by Gene Stratton Porter. Excellent for musically inclined teenagers.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

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    Unusual and Original

    T.S.Spivet is a young boy living on a ranch with his family.The entire family are self-involved and quirky.The death of the oldest son has caused them to become even more odd.The sidenotes and drawings supplied by T.S. give the reader a glimpse into the mind of a young genius on a quest to find out who he is and what he is made of.
    This would be a good book for a weekend of leisure. You will find yourself rooting T.S. on in his journey and sharing his triumphs and his fears.

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

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    The Marvel is in the Margins

    It's not often that I come across a book with its own sense of style. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is one such book. I picked it up after receiving the recommendation from a dear friend and could hardly put it down. From the moment you see the beautiful jacket cover to the turn of the first page you are drawn into the world of a little fellow named Tecumseh Sparrow, T.S. for short. The core of the story details his adventurous travels to the Smithsonian to accept an esteemed award.
    As with most good stories there are many underlying mysteries and questions that will grab the reader's attention: Tecumseh's disjointed relationship with his father. The death of his brother. His relationship with his mother to whom he refers to as Dr. Claire. And the oddly named but completely endearing family dog, Verywell. They all play a part in defining who T.S. is as a young boy and more importantly who he becomes at the end of the story.
    The real T.S. is a cartographer who enjoys mapping the world around him. He takes meticulous notes and draws numerous diagrams and charts detailing his findings of things common and rare. It is this one single character trait that Larsen plays on brilliantly in his writing. Because the real story of T.S. Spivet doesn't sit within the paragraphs of the 300-plus page novel. It lies in the margins. Here, we read excerpts (sometimes with illustrations) from T.S.'s journals and notebooks. The writings are acute and witty - almost as if T.S. wrote them himself. It's a story within a story where Larsen gives the reader complete permission to enter the world of his key character.
    Along the journey, you'll find T.S. at his most vulnerable and most clever and while you'll want to thank Larsen for giving him such depth you'll be relieved to know that in the end he is still just a boy at heart.

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  • Posted August 19, 2009

    Great Illustrations

    If not for the illustrations and great cover, I probably wouldn't have taken this book home. Aside from T.S. Spivet, the main character, I didn't feel as if anyone else was really fleshed out enough. The illustrations tipped this from a 3 to a 4. I started out gung ho with reading this book and fizzled towards the end as I lost interest. The book had some great moments and some that were not so great.

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

    Reif Larsen remembers what it was like to be a 12-year-old boy!

    I knew this book would become a favorite as soon as I looked at the format! The concept, and the execution of that concept, is so innovative! T.S. couldn't be a more appealing character, with his genius AND his flaws, and the author reveals that his 12-year-old self is not buried far below the surface. The graphics add a great deal to the meaning and the soul of the story; they provide a more intimate glimpse into T. S.'s character. I was searching for a symbol of parenting and the father-child bond as a gift for my son upon the birth of his first son; this was my choice. I can't imagine a more perfect rendering of the power and fragility of that relationship.

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  • Posted August 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The cover alone was the initial draw to this very interesting tale.

    This is a fable but draws on what can and occasionally happens to very gifted children. The Spivet family is fascinating. Mr Larsen engages the reader with a set of strange but interesting parents, a fairly normal teenage daughter, a son that has perished under unusual circumstances and the main character of T.S. Spivet. I think that his mapping proclivity helps to keep his world "normal" in the sense that he can control his surroundings. The adventurous trip to Washington DC is pretty unbelieveable but it is an adventure. Really enjoyed the history of his family as told by T.S. The parody of the workings of a large institution (Smithsonian) speaks to many other of these types of places; seeking to advance publicity and donation procurement. I did not predict the ending and will not give anything away. But it was fitting.
    The side bar illustrations were not a distraction for me and enjoyed them greatly. It was a very fast read for me and had a difficult putting this book down. It was fitting that I just finished "Annals of the Former World" by John McPhee and it shows that Mr Larsen did some serious research on geology.
    I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly to open minded readers.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Unusual format!

    I really enjoyed this book with all it's sidebars, sketches and references. It was kind of like "reading" a Joseph Cornell box. I liked all the geological facts/mapping, the amusingly dysfunctional family and the story itself seemed very "tactile" in a slick, computerized world. I didn't even realize there wasn't any sex and hardly any "cussin" till I put it down at the end. The story was probably a bit far-fetched in some ways with the mode of transport used to cross the country but still a good read!

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    Totally totally enjoyable!

    Great book and more than just enjoyable. Interesting, presented in a very enjoyable and precise manner. Can't wait until the author puts out another book as didn't want this one to end. Can't see anything against this book as just loved every part and always looked forward to going back to reading it!

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

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    Great Gimmick, But No Meat

    The maps were great fun, but I thought that the story left a lot to be desired. I kept waiting and hoping for something to happen, then when it finally did, it wasn't much.

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  • Posted May 17, 2009

    The literature of the Twit

    "The Selected Works of TS Spivet," though real neato to look at and flip through, is a highly unoriginal and tiresome first novel, a watered-down rip off, basically, of everything from, like, David Foster Wallace to Dave Eggers. That doesn't leave too wide a swathe to wade through, to be sure (um, David Foster Eggers and Dave Wallace are kind of the same writer, me thinks, though Eggers probably isn't as sad, what with the hot wife, the movies, and the publishing empire and all), but wide enough to do something original. Footnotes: check. Pithy, Safran Foer-esque writing: check. Weird/hipster name: check. Annoying narrator: check. That's what I got from "TS Spivet," along with a better understanding of why literature is dying (it's not dying, it just seems like that in the mainstream press) and why publishing houses can't pay real writers real advances (yes, I am a bitter writer whose advance could cover a pair of sneakers, if that). Lason's novel is the most recent and offensive example of what I can't help but calling the Literature of the Twit, annoying, smarter-than-thou writing with annoying, smarter-than-though characters/narrators. Think Safran Foer, but also DeLillo's lesser novels like "Endgame" and even Holden Caulfield. Here's hoping Larson's next outing ups the characterization and the writing, and downs the fancy fonts and distracting dioramas.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2009

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    Intriguing and Different

    Completely original, accessible and fun. The tie-in with the website keeps it going. Jump into a new experience; even my dog liked it.

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