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A Ship Made of Paperby Scott Spencer
Synopses & Reviews
A Conversation with Scott Spencer
1. You live in a small town in upstate New York. Are there any similarities between the Hudson Valley town you live in and the fictional Leyden?
Thequotation is from a blues song. I have heard it sung by Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, and, finally, Junior Wells. All these artists have great significance to me. The quote itself captures the fragility of our endeavors, how our hearts and minds must navigate such treacherous waters. Finally, a ship made of paper always seemed like a nice description of what a novel is.
The best thing about having a movie made of your novel is that more people read the book. You also get to go to at least one unforgettable party.
"Spencer's latest novel should cement his reputation as the contemporary American master of the love story....This book...could well be both the critical and commercial surprise of this spring season." Publishers Weekly
"[A] middle-class tragedy in a classical mode....Few writers are more proficient with a simile...or the perfect character-defining detail....[Spencer is] both a writer's writer and a poster child for sensitive men everywhere." Donna Rifkind, The Washington Post
"[T]he emotional ecology of A Ship Made of Paper feels cooked, less a complex, full-blooded work of art than an elaborate excuse, or even a symptom. It reeks of displaced anger....[Daniel and Iris] are simply too nice, too unrelievedly sweet to be convincing as reckless, ferocious lovers....Without acknowledging this darkness, the lovers of A Ship Made of Paper can't achieve true radiance." Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review
"This is an engaging novel of passion, romantic longing, race, class, family responsibilities, and the riveting anxieties of a couple embroiled in a relationship that cannot end well." Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"[Spencer's] writerly skills are perhaps less dazzling than Updike's, but his narrative voice is zestful and unpredictable. A Ship Made of Paper is a wild ride that lurches and swerves and floats." Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker
"[B]eautifully written....At last, here's a love story that you can recommend, without blushing, to other adults." Roger Gathman, The Chicago Sun-Times
"[A] complex, resonant variation on the theme of romantic obsession....Spencer has structured this novel ingeniously....Thanks to Spencer's sharp, steady eye and velvety prose, the tale of Daniel's folly makes for addictive, thoroughly engaging reading." Frank Wilson, The Philadelphia Inquirer
No novelist alive knows the human heart better than Scott Spencer does. No one tells stories about human passion with greater urgency, insight, or sympathy. In A Ship Made of Paper, this artist of desire paints his most profound and compelling canvas yet.
After a shattering incidence of violence in New York City, Daniel Emerson has returned to the Hudson River town where he grew up. There, along with Kate Ellis and her daughter, Ruby, he settles into the kind of secure and comfortable family life he longed for during his emotionally barren childhood. But then he falls in love with Iris Davenport, the black woman whose son is Ruby's best friend. During a freak October blizzard, Daniel is stranded at Iris's house, and they spend the night together — the beginning of a sexual liaison that eventually imperils all their relationships, Daniel's profession, their children's well-being, their own race-blindness, and their view of themselves as essentially good people. And the emotional stakes are raised even higher when Iris's husband, Hampton, suffers a devastating accidental injury at Daniel's hands.
A Ship Made of Paper captures all the drama, nuance, and helpless intensity of sexual and romantic yearning, and it bears witness to the age-old conflict between the order of the human community and the disorder of desire.
About the Author
Scott Spencer is the author of seven previous novels, including Endless Love, which has sold more than two million copies. His other novels include The Rich Man's Table, Men in Black, and Waking the Dead, a film version of which was produced by Jodie Foster in 2000.
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