The epic adventure of William Tyce, a boy without parents, who grows up near a river in the rural Midwest. In a glossary-style list, he imparts his wisdom on subjects ranging from ASPHALT and BETTA FISH to NIHILISM. His improbable quest - to create a reference - takes him on a journey down the river by raft. He seeks to discover how his mother died and find reasons for his father's disappearance. But as he goes about defining his changing world, all kinds of extraordinary and wonderful things happen to him. A story about keeping your own record straight and living life by a different code.