The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

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by Reif Larsen
     
 

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Discover The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet for iPad.

A brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel tracing twelve-year-old genius map maker T.S. Spivet's attempts to understand the ways of the world

When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird

Overview

Discover The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet for iPad.

A brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel tracing twelve-year-old genius map maker T.S. Spivet's attempts to understand the ways of the world

When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal-if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal-is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum's hallowed halls.

T.S. sets out alone, leaving before dawn with a plan to hop a freight train and hobo east. Once aboard, his adventures step into high gear and he meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits, documenting mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the urban phenomenon of "rims," and the pleasures of McDonald's, among other things. We come to see the world through T.S.'s eyes and in his thorough investigation of the outside world he also reveals himself.

As he travels away from the ranch and his family we learn how the journey also brings him closer to home. A secret family history found within his luggage tells the story of T.S.'s ancestors and their long-ago passage west, offering profound insight into the family he left behind and his role within it. As T.S. reads he discovers the sometimes shadowy boundary between fact and fiction and realizes that, for all his analytical rigor, the world around him is a mystery.

All that he has learned is tested when he arrives at the capital to claim his prize and is welcomed into science's inner circle. For all its shine, fame seems more highly valued than ideas in this new world and friends are hard to find.

T.S.'s trip begins at the Copper Top Ranch and the last known place he stands is Washington, D.C., but his journey's movement is far harder to track: How do you map the delicate lessons learned about family and self? How do you depict how it feels to first venture out on your own? Is there a definitive way to communicate the ebbs and tides of heartbreak, loss, loneliness, love? These are the questions that strike at the core of this very special debut.

Now a major motion picture directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Kyle Catlett and Helena Bonham Carter. 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Two predictions about The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet: readers are going to love it as much as I did, and few if any will have experienced anything like it. I'm flabbergasted by Reif Larsen's talent, and I was warmed by his generosity. Here is a book that does the impossible: it combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. Good novels entertain; great ones come as a gift to the readers who are lucky enough to find them. This book is a treasure.”—Stephen King
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Meet T. S. Spivet, the hero of this unusual debut novel. A brilliant cartographer, T.S. classifies and categorizes everything in his path. But his most challenging task is to map out a route from his home in Montana to the Smithsonian Institute, where he's scheduled to accept an award for his scientific illustrations. For T.S., you see, is just 12 years old.

So begins the incredible story of a singular boy's life-changing adventure. Intent on crossing the country alone, he sneaks out of the house, catches a ride on a freight train, and brawls with some unsavory characters before becoming the toast of the town in D.C.

The Complete Works of T. S. Spivet is as difficult to classify as the world T.S. inhabits. So don't even try. Instead, find a nice comfortable spot to read the story of his journey, written by a young and thoroughly creative new voice in fiction.

Says Stephen King: "I'm flabbergasted by Reif Larsen's talent…This is a very funny book…that does the impossible: it combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. Good novels entertain; great ones come as a gift to readers who are lucky enough to find them. This book is a treasure." (Summer 2009 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

Fans of Wes Anderson will find much to love in the offbeat characters and small (and sometimes not so small) touches of magic thrown into the mix during the cross-country, train-hopping adventure of a 12-year-old mapmaking prodigy, T.S. Spivet. After the death of T.S.'s brother, Layton, T.S. receives a call from the Smithsonian informing him that he has won the prestigious Baird award, prompting him to hop a freight train to Washington, D.C., to accept the prize. Along the way, he meets a possibly sentient Winnebago, a homicidal preacher, a racist trucker and members of the secretive Megatherium Club, among many others. All this is interwoven with the journals of his mother and her effort to come to grips with the matriarchal line of scientists in the family. Dense notes, many dozens of illustrations and narrative elaborations connected to the main text via dotted lines are on nearly every page. For the most part, they work well, though sometimes the extra material confuses more than clarifies. Larsen is undeniably talented, though his unique vision and style make for a love-it or hate-it proposition. (May)

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Library Journal

Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is a mapmaker whose highly accomplished drawings have appeared in exhibitions at the Smithsonian and have garnered him the coveted Baird Prize, for which he is asked to come to Washington, DC, and deliver an acceptance speech. Unbeknown to everyone, T.S. Spivet is a 12-year-old boy who lives on a Montana ranch with his cowboy father, scientist mother, and bored teenage sister. Unwilling to forgo his award by revealing his age, T.S. secretly hops a freight train and travels to DC. Among the bizarre and impractical items he brings along is his mother's notebook, in which she has written a partially fictional account of their ancestor Emma Osterville, who struggled to be a scientist in a misogynistic environment. Emma's story in some ways parallels T.S.'s, as they both battle narrow-minded thinking in the world of science. Debut novelist Larsen's writing is as detailed and absorbing as a map, and while the ending is a bit of a stretch, the overall story is a delightful and poignant adventure. Recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/09.]
—Joy Humphrey

Kirkus Reviews
A coming-of-age novel that works very hard to charm. T.S. Spivet makes maps: of his bedroom, of his dreams, of his sister shucking corn on the front porch. T.S. is precocious, having established a considerable reputation by the age of 12. His career, however, is a secret from his parents, a taciturn rancher and an entomologist T.S. calls "Dr. Clair." So when the Smithsonian wants to give him a prestigious award for his work, T.S. declines the honor. Out on the ranch with his cowboy father, though, trying to fill the place in his family left by the death of his more rustic brother, T.S. has an epiphany: He is not like his father; he does not belong in Montana. So he hops a freight train and heads out across America. That T.S. learns a lot-about himself, his family and the world beyond his boyhood home-should go without saying. In its essence, this is an oft-told story, and the particular brand of quirkiness Larsen employs has become quite familiar too. The most distinctive feature here is the marginalia: Pages are bordered with T.S.'s charts, diagrams and explanatory comments. Reaction to the novel will, one suspects, be mixed. Those who are as scientifically minded as the protagonist will be irritated by the details Larsen gets wrong. It's jarring to read that the Spivet family has a photo of Linnaeus hanging in their home, since the father of modern taxonomy died in 1778. More persistently troubling is the fact that T.S. is characterized throughout as a cartographer, but most of his annotated illustrations fall well outside the standard definition of cartography. Not all drawings are maps. Readers used to the textual trickery of David Foster Wallace or Mark Z. Danielewski are likely tofind T.S.'s pictures and musings merely precious. But there's certainly an audience for heartfelt whimsy, and for an easy read that appears to be smart. Only sales will tell if Larsen's debut was worth the hefty advance paid by the publisher. Agent: Denise Shannon/Denise Shannon Literary Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594202179
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
813,081
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Two predictions about The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet: readers are going to love it as much as I did, and few if any will have experienced anything like it. I'm flabbergasted by Reif Larsen's talent, and I was warmed by his generosity. Here is a book that does the impossible: it combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon, and Little Miss Sunshine. Good novels entertain; great ones come as a gift to the readers who are lucky enough to find them. This book is a treasure.”—Stephen King

Meet the Author

Reif Larsen's first novel, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into twenty-seven languages. A Montana Honor book, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet was a finalist for the IndieBound Award, was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and is currently being released as a film in France and the United States.

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The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
mmhiggins More than 1 year ago
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.
mpsarch More than 1 year ago
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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AlanRetlaw More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FallenAngel More than 1 year ago
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.
Ellipsis More than 1 year ago
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.
cielbeeMA More than 1 year ago
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.
MontanaMama More than 1 year ago
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.
jrf2read More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MS-art More than 1 year ago
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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Noticer More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago