Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: The Selected Works of T.S Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S Spivet, Reif Larsen
3.14.11 – 3.19.11

I had to get beyond the dislike I felt for the author (he felt so smug in his picture!), but once I did, the book was fabulous. It was sporadically unfinished in some parts, like the entire train of the story dealing with his mom and her work of fiction, but other than that, I really enjoyed it. I think having unfinished story lines within complex novels is the trademark of overly-ambitious authors, but what can you do? (Nothing. You can do nothing). I loved the use of the illustrations, and a lot of them made me laugh out loud. I like the innocence that the kid maintained throughout—remind the adults in the book that of course he can’t answer questions like that, he’s just a kid!

I feel, though, some doubt about how real his character could be. I get that he’s a genius little cartographer, and his prodigy status isn’t what pops the bubble of fiction, but rather, the whole setting and his upbringing and his responses to that upbringing felt bizarrely out of touch with the real world, but in an almost-perfect way. Like the author was trying for realism, but failed, rather than if the author had just umped straight into creating a fictional world.

I feel like incorporating the modern world with things like internet and cell phone is [proving to be a hard task for authors, and I’m not entirely sure why. It seems to clash with novel structures in some way. I wonder if it it’s a problem every generation of writers has when it comes to including technology, or if we’ve grown advanced enough in such a short amount of time that it sounds too much like science fiction. I think, in retrospect, that it’s one of the reasons I liked Franzen’s Freedom so much. He seemed to do it somewhat effectively.

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