‘T.S. Spivet’ Debut Novel Rising Fast

When a 29 year-old author’s first novel jumps to #112 on Amazon the day after it goes on sale, it’s time to call it “a precocious debut.” The rise of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson appears to have been sparked by an excerpt in Vanity Fair magazine and a Boston Globe writeup that focuses as much on the $900,000 advance paid for the book by Penguin Press as it does on the book’s 12 year-old narrator, Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet. The book follows the Montana rancher’s son on a journey to Washington (without his parents’ knowledge) to collect an award for the maps he obsessively makes, which are reproduced in hand-drawn marginalia that spills over the pages of Larsen’s book.

So far, library orders are on the low side (most in the 4-8 copy range) with reserves ranging from 17 to 30. That may be because early reviews of the novel have varied, with Booklist giving it a star, Library Journal fairly positive and PW and Kirkus more mixed. The book has also attracted publishers in two dozen other countries, and recently drew praise from the Times Online (UK), which called the writing “redolent of Mark Twain’s Roughing It in the rhythms of its humour and the picaresque deviations of its storytelling,” while also observing that the book “loses its poise” in the final chapters.

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet
Reif Larsen
Price: $27.95
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2009-05-05)
ISBN-10: 1594202176
ISBN-13: 9781594202179

UPDATE; We just learned that Spivet is also available in audio:

  • Publisher: Penguin Audio; Unabridged edition (May 5, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0143144650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143144656

One Response to “‘T.S. Spivet’ Debut Novel Rising Fast”

  1. Brock Martin Says:

    Nora, FYI the audio version is available from Penguin, $49.95, ISBN: 9780143144656