Charting A Course

The phone call came one August afternoon as my older sister Gracie and I sat out on the back porch shucking the sweet corn into the big tin buckets. The buckets were still peppered with little teeth-marks from this past spring, when Verywell, our ranch hound, became depressed and turned to eating metal. Perhaps I should clarify. When I say that Gracie and I were shucking the sweet corn, what I actually mean is that Gracie was shucking the corn and I was drawing a diagrammatic map in one of my little blue spiral notebooks of precisely how she was shucking the corn.

All of my notebooks were color-coded. The blue notebooks that neatly lined the south wall of my room were reserved for "Maps of People Doing Things," as opposed to the green notebooks on the east wall, which contained zoological, geological and topographical maps, or the red notebooks on the west wall, which was where I mapped out insect anatomy in case my mother, Dr. Clair Linneaker Spivet, ever called upon my services.

I had once tried lining maps on the south* wall of my room, but in my excitement to organize, I briefly forgot that this was where the entrance to my room was located, and when Dr. Clair opened the door to announce that dinner was ready, the bookshelf fell on my head.

I sat on my Lewis and Clark carpet, covered in notebooks and shelving. "Am I dead?" I asked, knowing that she would not tell me, even if I was.

"Never let your work trap you in a corner," Dr. Clair said through the door...

So begins THE book of the summer, (the very handsome) Reif Larsen's The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. I'm only three pages in, but it reads like watching a Wes Anderson movie, complete with Eric Chase Anderson's drawings.  Larsen draws his own charts, maps and diagrams which fill the novel that Stephen King says "does the impossible: It combines Mark Twain, Thomas Pynchon and Little Miss Sunshine." I can't wait for pages 4-374.

* Typing things out makes one pay too much attention to detail. I think this is supposed to be north. (Let it go, HHH, let it go).


  1. catbird says:

    wow. i was riveted in the first paragraph. is it standing up, beyond page 3?

    i had a "science center" on a shelf in my bedroom in fifth grade. some pretty rocks, twigs and leaves that i labeled with made-up names.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I had cheaply framed pictures of Robbie Benson and Leif Garrett in my room...torn from TigerBeat magazine.


  3. Sounds like a must read. If only I was as organized. Maps just are not my thing, but I do organize my clothing neurotically.