In 2009, Reif Larsen wowed the literary world with “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet,” a postmodern road novel featuring a 12-year-old prodigy and festooned with maps, illustrations and marginalia. If young Spivet’s thoughts were a little too mature at times, young Larsen displayed an admirable willingness to think outside the traditional narrative box.
The promise shown in that first novel is more than fulfilled in the grandly ambitious “I Am Radar,” another masterpiece of geekhood.
It, too, has maps, illustrations, footnotes — even a bibliography — but if Larsen’s debut looked like a Donald Barthelme assemblage, this one resembles something by Thomas Pynchon. Like Pynchon’s novels (which are alluded to a few times in the text), “I Am Radar” is thick with scientific references, tech talk, arcane erudition and historical research. Set over the past 40 years, it yo-yos between New Jersey, Norway, Yugoslavia, Cambodia and