Tag Archives: Butterfly Burning

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.


Summer Reading List

11 Jun

Bleh… that used to be the dreaded three-word phrase of my high school summers. Not because I don’t like to read; rather, because I had a whole list of books I wanted to read instead of my “assigned” books. As a result, I spent most of June hardly reading anything — one of my assigned books if I was lucky — July giving up my assignment and reading a handful of my chosen books, and the first two weeks of August reading the rest of my assigned books in a frenzied panic.

Ah, the joys of college life. An entire three month period entirely devoted to reading… well, I am supposedly doing research at school this summer, but that involves reading, too. Reading that I actually want to do. And so, inspired by a post that the Poets & Writers website  just posted (see below), I’ve decided to share my own summer reading list — divided, of course, into their own little categories just for your entertainment.

Poets & Writers Summer Reading List

What I have to read for my research (AKA books I really wanted to read anyways that the school pays for…):

– Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson (actually, I had read this before this summer and it’s one of my favorite books… READ IT)
– The World and Other Places: Stories by Jeanette Winterson
– The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga
– Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi (have finished: very good, quick read — powerful novel)
– Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (have finished: a piece of African literature I would highly recommend)
– Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
– In Another Place, Not Here by Dionne Brand (very poetic writing)

Books I want to read because I’ve read something else I’ve liked by the author:
– A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (I read his book of short stories How We Are Hungry and could hardly get enough)
– Numbers in the Dark: And Other Stories by Italo Calvino (I read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler — a wonderful book about the art of reading with many twists and turns)
– Serena by Ron Rash (This is his fourth book, the first of which he’s getting a lot of publicity, but he’s been around a long time and from what I’ve read — The World Made Straight — this guy knows how to write. Also, I very fortunately got the chance to meet him and he’s pretty much the nicest guy ever.)

Classics I haven’t read and feel as though I cannot graduate as an English major without reading:
– Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (I know, I’m horrible…)
– Middlemarch by George Elliot (The likelihood of my finishing this before the summer’s end: not very strong)
– On the Road by Jack Kerouac (Okay, I think I could graduate without reading this… but I’d rather tackle this before Middlemarch.)
– East of Eden by John Steinbeck (My friend Jane almost choked on her lunch when I told her I haven’t read this. Therefore, I will read this for you, Jane.)

Purely cover-shopping:
– The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (Apparently it has cool pictures inside… I’m in.)

– Little Bee by Chris Cleave

– Fire to Fire by Mark Doty (Actually just finished this and it blew my mind. BLEW MY MIND. Will be revisiting for years to come.)

Books I’m waiting to come out in paperback (because I can’t afford hardback):
– Yellowrocket by Todd Boss
– The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Oprah’s freaking out about it so I guess it’s worth a read… maybe…)

Alright, that’s it. I probably go on forever, or at least twenty more books, but my iced coffee is starting to look a lot more interesting. Besides, aren’t I supposed to be researching? Actually, I think I’ll break open one of these books instead…