The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

This  month’s book club book was remarkable in lots of ways:

Drawings

This book was packed full of drawings. It’s not the first book we’ve read with pictorial excitement but we haven’t read many that use illustrations to tell the story along with the prose (apart from Maus that is). This book tells the story of an obsessive 12 year old boy who has to physically draw and map everything that happens to him in his life – from the accidental shooting of his brother in a barn to waste paper on a Chicago street. Everything is drawn and recorded in exquisite detail and these illustrations were the constant companion to the text throughout the book.

Size

It was an odd, large, square-ish format, this book. Larger than A5 and smaller than A4. It would flop open and fall awkwardly when trying to read it in bed. On the plus side, it would fall open flat without having to break the spine. The large format allowed the illustrations to really breathe and the typographic layout was pleasingly open and engaging. But most of all it was just odd.

Old book or New Book?

This book was an old book set in the modern era. It was a timeless tale set amidst the high plains initially with cowboys and ranches and then hobos on railroad cars and then Smithsonian derring do. The author played around with the idea of  time I think to the point where it wasn’t important  which for me is interesting as I’m always trying to pinpoint time because it helps me to process the information.

Obsession

The author was relentless in his articulation of the obsession of the main character TS Spivet to the point it almost detracts from the narrative. I found it was only when I relaxed and enjoyed the illustrative diversions that they no longer distracted but delivered additional texture and depth. As a bit of an obsessive myself, this book spoke to me on many levels and Spivet shares many traits with myself not just as a 12 year old but now.

Six out of Ten

That’s what I scored this book, which I upped at the end of the night because I felt I’d underscored it somewhat. There was a mixed bag of scores and even one of the guys hadn’t read it – which is unusual in itself and often tells us more than the review would from that member. I enjoyed the book, it was light and fresh after last month’s intensely brutal South American dictator novel and I’m thinking back on it fondly.

On to next Month.


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