The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
by Reif Larsen
T.S. Spivet is a 12-year-old genius mapmaker who lives on a ranch in Montana. His father is a silent cowboy and his mother is a scientist who for the last twenty years has been looking for a mythical species of beetle. His brother has gone, his sister seems normal but might not be, and his dog – Verywell – is going mad.
It’s odd, but then families are. T.S. makes sense of it all by drawing beautiful, meticulous maps kept in innumerable colour-coded notebooks: maps of the countryside, maps of his family’s behaviour, maps of animal and plant life. He is brilliant, and the Smithsonian Institution agrees, though when they telephone with news that he has won a major scientific prize they don’t suspect for a minute that he is twelve years old.
So begins T.S.’s life-changing adventure, fleeing in the dead of night, riding freight trains two thousand miles across America – how else do 12-year-olds get to Washington D.C.? – to reach the awards dinner, the fame, the secret-society membership and the TV appearances that beckon. But is this what he wants? Do maps and lists explain the world? And why are adults so strange?
The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is a story like no other: exhilarating, funny, endlessly charming and unbearably poignant. It is a journey through life’s mysteries great and small, and about how on earth a boy with a telescope, four compasses and a theodolite should set about solving them.
“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