The oracular beard with Jared Conti
By Jared Conti in Arts & Entertainment
November 10, 2011
The death of a family member. Heading out on one’s own. The trip of a lifetime.
…and these are all things that have happened to me in the last year or so. Someone my age, or yours—but what about a twelve-year-old coming of age? Hard enough for me to get out of bed in the morning let alone make sense of the hoopla that’s been plaguing me for the last coupla years. Wish I were twelve again. Then again, maybe not.
Remember, the bigger the facial hair, the better the rating!
“The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet”
When I was twelve, I ran away from home once a month, on average. I never made it far. Normally just down the block to that weird driveway or the gas station at the top of the hill where I cheered myself up with packs of comic book trading cards. I could never stay away, though. My life was here, and eats were always on the table at a certain time. Depending on my departure, there were always snacks available so long as I didn’t ruin my dinner.
T.S. (Tecumseh Sparrow) Spivet is a child cartographer: he makes maps of things you would normally make maps of, but also conversations, all possible moves in a Cat’s Cradle and all the McDonald’s restaurants in North Dakota. T.S. is a particular little guy that’s got bedroom walls lined with little notebooks and places mapped out as to where all his mapping equipment belongs. So adept at such a young age for a cartographer, T.S. wins a prestigious award through the Smithsonian.
His older sister, Gracie, it a typical teenage girl with dreams of becoming a movie star. Mom is a scientist in search of the elusive tiger monk beetle. And Dad? He’s a man’s man, and cowboys don’t talk much. Needless to say, it can be awful hard for T.S. to relate to the rest of his family. Harder still when he witnessed the death of his brother mere months before our story begins.
Against all odds, T.S. hops a freight train to Washington, riding forward in a backward-heading Winnebago. Amid hunger, homelessness and time-traveling wormholes, T.S. learns about what it is to be a kid, a grown-up and a member of a family, all the while mapping his adventures each step of the way.
T.S. resonates on every page, made more vociferous by the maps riddled throughout the book. Adventure is made real and apparent by the way his inability to connect to the human race and everything he may or may not win or lose in the end.
Facial Hair Rating: Hobo preacher Josiah Merrymore. “The beard made his face appear wider than it was long, as if his head had been gently smushed by a giant thumb and index finger. Amidst all this ferocity of hair, one of his eyes was lazy…