A KEY TO TREEHOUSE LIVING

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A KEY TO TREEHOUSE LIVING BY ELLIOT REED

Elliot Reed’s debut novel takes the reader on a Huck Finn-esque journey via encyclopedic entry. Reeds offers us a glossary of the language used when growing up alone in a small, Midwestern town, ranging from terms like PODUNK TOWNS to FAULTY WISHING and presenting in spaces as wonderful, strange, and lonely as childhood itself. Reed doesn’t simply offer this glossary, but rather with this form, he tracks the life of its composer, William Tyce, as he moves through his adolescence uncovering the mysteries of why adults do things like leave their children or burn down houses. Each detail, whether a musing or observation, offers insight into the compassionate and resilient developing philosophy of its narrator. “When it feels as if things are getting away from you,” William writes in his entry on NEXUS, “I’ve learned, it is best to tie up what you can, hope it’s enough to float on, and hold on to the knot where it all comes together.” A Key to Treehouse Living holds a nexus out to the reader of every moment—from William’s days building and defending tree-forts to his life-endangering moments on a handmade raft—with each entry placed so precisely and lovingly as to hold the entire book together as it sails.

Tin House.

—Review by Joy Clark