Footnotes and Feetnotes

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The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Reif Larson

Fiction, 375 pages

So, in undergrad, I took a survey class for Brit Lit. At semester’s end, we all had to submit a final exam question. I can’t recall what my topic was, but I can recall that my exam question had feet notes: a footnote with a sub-footnote, a feetnote. At the time, I thought that this was novel, having missed Infinite Jest and DF Wallace (I was in elementary school). My professor thought the feetnote concept was hilarious and no one pulled me aside to tell that I wasn’t the first. Anyways.

While visiting family in California this week, my host threw The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet at me. BAM! What a book. This book is why I love reading. Just when I thought I knew what the footnote/annotated book could be, Mr. Larsen does something novel with the genre. I’d never heard of Mr. Larson or his debut novel from 2009. I enjoyed every illustrated margin note AND some of the illustration margin notes had sub-notes. Be still my beating heart.

The blurb on the back of the book from Stephen King was: Pynchon meets Tom Sawyer, and I think this is pretty accurate. I struggle to get through Pynchon, but I don’t with DF Wallace. Mr. Larsen feels like a less pretentious Wallace and that is a pretty damn good place to occupy. I’ve already ordered Mr. Larsen’s second book, I Am Radar.