Highlights of T.S. Spivet author interview; update on summer reading

21 Jul

Really great interview by Book Slut with Reif Larsen, author of The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet:

Interview with Reif Larsen

Larsen writes from the perspective of his 12-year-old protagonist, somewhat of a genius map-maker, to create a highly original and experimental text, according to Book Slut.

Great quotes from the interview —

“I, for one, am seduced by arrows and diagrams. There’s something about the traveling along that path, the movement from one space to another using an arrow. I kind of think that’s how my brain works at least. I think a key part of this book and T.S.’s character is the arrows. The disparate leap of logic from main text to stomping grounds margins is where he gives himself permission to let his mind loose, which is also where in the beginning he makes his reveals. As he gains a little more solid footing and moves into more of a player in the field some of that language, that more adult emotional language, migrates into the text.”

Larsen is expanding upon why the story is told mostly in margins. I love the idea of the story moving from the margins into the actually text as it progresses, mirroring the journey that the character has undergone. I think a lot of writing is like mapping — trying to sequester and understood some given territory (of thought) at the contour of one’s mind.

Speaking of, another quote; Larsen’s “definition” of map/mapping —

“I think a lot of people are married to a map is a geographical object. For me a map is a way of making meaning of the world around us on some kind of paper or screen or whatever it is. It’s that meaning making, or the translation, that’s the important part. I love maps often because they show so much about the mapmaker. I realize the book is kind of gently pressing up against the definition of what a map is. I hope in some ways it expands the conversation. I think a very good map or a personal map is very personal or emotional.”

Talking about doing experimental writing: “I’m allergic to bells and whistles just for bells and whistles sake.”

“I almost can’t write anything too autobiographical or too close to home.” I am the OPPOSITE.

And finally, he bashes Kindle, thank God —

“Do you see the book as an object in addition to the story inside it? For instance, I can’t imagine readers trying to read your gorgeously laid out novel on a Kindle. It just doesn’t seem like it would be the same as having the book itself.

I think so, and hopefully there will be more books that are like books as artifacts. I really think the book is such a physical and beautiful technology that really fits into how we as humans are set up. We have laps, our elbows bend in a certain way. The way we interact with a book is so elemental that we don’t even think about it. At least for me, when I think of books and when I think of where something is in a book, I think of the real physical geography of the book. With a Kindle the whole three-dimensions of the book and the whole touch of the book is lost. I don’t think the technology is there yet to replace a book and I don’t think they will ever be replaced. This book will not be available on the Kindle. Even an audio book, I don’t know how we’re going to do that. I really like books that are meant to be books. I like how this book can function both as that and also a novel that is enjoyable to read.”

What a lovely way to think about books, Mr. Larsen.

If you read my summer list (first post), you will notice that T.S. Spivet is on it. I’m still weary about shelling out the cash for this huge hardback book, but maybe if it is that great… However, I have read a couple reviews (in passing) saying that the book starts strong, but gets a bit convoluted towards the end. Also something about it was way too long? Maybe I’m making this up.

Speaking of summer reading list, here’s an update of what I’ve read so far (most recently, going backwards):

– Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

– The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois

– Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

– With Her in Ourland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (research-related)

– Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (research)

– Without a Name and Under the Tongue by Yvonne Vera (research)

– A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

– Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera (research)

– Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (research)

Currently reading the Selected Poems of James Tate, among other books.

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