Finalist for the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
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.
Daniel Emerson lives with Kate Ellis and is like a father to her daughter, Ruby. But he cannot control his desire for Iris Davenport, the African-American woman whose son is Ruby's best friend. During a freak October blizzard, Daniel is stranded at Iris's house and they begin 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.
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.
"[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
"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
"[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
"Daniel and Iris...are simply too nice....They lack the nihilism required in a grand passion....Without acknowledging this darkness, A Ship Made of Paper can't achieve true radiance." Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review
"[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
"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
"The novel is a page-turner, with crises scattered throughout, but it is also peopled with well-developed characters who live in a carefully depicted rural college town. Exhausting in its intensity..." Library Journal
Spencer's novel 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.