Galley Club: A Key to Treehouse Living


Tin House invited a select number of early readers onto a well-constructed raft for the wild ride of Elliot Reed’s debut novel: A Key to Treehouse Living, the glossary-style chronicles of William Tyce.

William Tyce is a boy without parents who grows up near a river in the rural Midwest. His quest—to create a reference volume specific to his existence—takes him on a journey down the river by raft (see MYSTICAL VISION, see NAVIGATING BIG RIVERS BY NIGHT). He seeks to discover how his mother died (see ABSENCE) and find reasons for his father’s disappearance (see UNCERTAINTY, see VANITY). But as he goes about defining his changing world, all kinds of extraordinary and wonderful things happen to him. Are you as intrigued as our early readers were? Check out their thoughts below.

Which bit of advice or wisdom from William resonated with you most?

  • “The Boy Scouts say you need food, water, and shelter to survive, but they forgot to say you also need to make lists, and you need an imagination.”
  • “If you’re trying to tell a lot of stories all at once and you’re trying to tell them for a lot of different reasons, you must resort to unorthodox methods.”
  • “If your plan is to show up to court and try to convince a judge that he should go easy on your uncle, you’d better have some Latin in your back pocket so that you can sound official.”
  • “Children are trained from a very young age to be looters.”
  • “Why is a man climbing that tree with a bugle in his belt? Because he wants to play the bugle from a tree limb. There’s his purpose.”
  • “Nobody can betray you if you only rely on yourself.”
  • “Wind moves the fastest of all things, and it makes the greatest journeys, traveling as far as the sun and back.”
  • ‪”It is a fallacy that you love someone if you say you love him but then you run away.”
  • “Betta Fish can cure you of nightmares if you hold them in your mouth for ten seconds before you go to sleep.”
  • “When someone tells you ‘we need to have a talk,’ you can be sure that trouble is on the horizon.”
  • “It’s about as possible to talk about what it means to be lonely as it is to talk about what it means to be happy, sad, or content.”
  • “A woman becomes a mother when a baby comes out of her…no matter how much or how little mothering she does, she will still be a mother.” 
  • “A letter is a symbol, no more alive than a stone, that is arranged among other letters in such a way that the combination comes alive”
  • “When it feels as if things are getting away from you … it’s 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.”
  • “You make things up whether you like it or not, same as when you breathe.”
  • “Every line will tangle itself if you give it a chance, and everyone has been beaten by at least one tangle. To untangle a tangle, your willpower must be more than that of the line.”
  • “The last thing you want is to realize you’re sharing the canoe with a snake while you’re out there in the middle of the pond.”
  • “No matter how badly you want to do it, you must not give in to the burning need to rearrange books the way you think they should go.”
  • “You realize your ability to define the story of what happened, and you feel the courage to tell a story in your own words—the proper way—so it can’t be rewritten. It’s about writing your life on the face of the world in such a way that you and world, both, are made real.”

Thanks to our wonderful Galley Club members for climbing into A Key to Treehouse Living and for sharing their literary expertise! Interested in being part of Galley Club? We’ll announce the next title—and instructions for how to join—on our Facebook and Instagram accounts later this year.