Fri July 31, 2009
Reif Larsen's "Selected Works of T.S. Spivet."
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Today on StudioTulsa, we hear from the author of one of this summer's hit novels. Our guest is Reif Larsen; our topic is his first novel, the acclaimed (and recently published by Penguin) "Selected Works of T.S. Spivet." Wonderfully illustrated, vividly detailed, and engrossing from page one, this novel tells the story of a brilliant twelve-year-old boy who makes maps, takes notes, creates drawings, remembers facts, and thereby carefully and charmingly finds his way in the world. As we learn on today's show, Larsen has worked in the past as a documentary filmmaker --- and one of the topics in his new book is a subject that he's also explored on film, namely "the American cowboy stereotype." One critic, writing in Library Journal, has summarized Larsen's novel like so: "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. . . . [This is] a delightful and poignant adventure."