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A Ship Made Of Paper: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, Feb 10 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (Feb. 10 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061367443
  • ASIN: B003JTHUVG
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.2 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,419,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Spencer's latest novel should cement his reputation as the contemporary American master of the love story. Daniel Emerson is a New York City lawyer who has returned to his hometown of Leyden, N.Y., a picturesque Hudson Valley village, with his girlfriend Kate, a novelist, and her daughter, Ruby. Kate drinks and obsesses about the O.J. Simpson trial instead of writing fiction. Daniel finds himself falling in love with Iris Davenport, an African-American grad student at the local university. Iris is married to Hampton Welles, an investment adviser. The book records Iris and Daniel's affair from both perspectives and poses the question, is their fleeting happiness really worth so much ruin? For ruin there is a-plenty: Daniel thoroughly humiliates Kate, destroys his financial status, becomes a subject of gossip in the village and inadvertently mauls Hampton in an accident with a roman candle, making it almost impossible for Iris to leave him. Spencer is an unerring writer. He describes the two couples at a local concert: "From time to time, Kate must glance at Daniel. His eyes are closed, but she's sure he's awake. Hampton takes Iris's hand, brings it to his lips, while she stares intently ahead. And then, Kate sees Daniel glancing at Iris. Their eyes meet for a moment, but it has the impact of cymbals crashing. It is a shocking, agitating thing to see. It's like being in a store with someone and watching them steal something." Kate's violated sense of order is captured in perfectly chosen metaphors. This book, in which matters of sex and race are treated with unusual frankness, could well be both the critical and commercial surprise of this spring season.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

A violent incident sends Daniel Emory, a successful white New York lawyer, back to his Hudson River hometown, where he is ensconced in edgy domesticity with his girlfriend, Kate Ellis, and her daughter, Ruby. His daily routine of taking Ruby to day care introduces him to Iris Davenport, a black woman whose son is Ruby's best friend. Daniel develops an obsessive attraction to Iris, who embodies for him the possibility of release from an emotional distance he has felt all his life. Iris tentatively returns the affection, yearning for her own respite from a frosty marriage to Hampton Welles, an investment banker, resident only on the weekends. A freak snowstorm affords the opportunity to begin an affair that sets in motion fierce jealousy--tinged with racial animus--in Kate and Hampton. 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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I would give it 4.5 stars if I could.
I've just finished reading this book and I've got to say that this is one of the best books I've read this year. Although this book is supposed to center around the complicated problems that an interracial affair may face, I think this book is more about the consequences of infidelity, regardless of race.
Scott Spencer is an excellent story teller and a extremely good writer who has the ability to give emotion through his words without being too wordy or stiff. Even the love scenes within the novel can be read without cringing. Usually I'm cautious when it comes to fiction about interracial/cross cultural relationships because they always seem to fall into the same stereotypical and unrealistic traps that plague most of these types of stories and even though some people felt this book to be stereotypial, I didn't think this was the case at all. I think the author's portrayals of certain characters were meant only for those characters and not meant to paint broad stereotypical images of every member of that character's race.
Black authors are usually the only ones who seem willing to write stories on interracial topics and I was curious to see a white male author's point of view. I thought Scott Spencer did a terrific job even though I wasn't really sure why Daniel loved/obsessed over Iris so much especially since he left New York because he was scared of black people (did he love her because she represented everything he wanted in a woman, or did he admire black culture so much and just wanted a part of it for himself, or did he just simply love her without explanation?). I found Scott Spencer's writing to be poetic, honest and open. The story was interesting and I am eager to read his other books because I liked this novel so much.
Hollywood has already turned two of his novels into movies (Endless Love and Walking the Dead) and I would love to see this novel on the big screen as well.
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Format: Paperback
A Ship Made of Paper is an excellent rendering of the deep morass two married people can sink into when they get involved in a love affair. Daniel isn't legally married, but he is in a committed relationship with another woman and her child. He is smitten with a black married woman, Iris, that he meets while taking the child to a day care center, and the relationship soon develops. Iris's husband, Hampton, is a cold, aloof banker who is consumed with feelings about race and discrimination.
Author Spencer does a good job of showing the difficulties of such a relationship, how they eventually cause anguish for those involved and those they live with. Can anything good come from infidelity? The question is asked not from a standpoint of morality, but from the reference point of psychological stress, and the effect such a relationship ultimately has on the physical, mental, social, and economic life of those touched by the event. Spencer deals with these issues. His characters are all decent people who perhaps have made unfortunate choices. Daniel's mate, Kate, can be shrewish, and Iris's husband is definitely not the romantic sort. Kate says frequently that Daniel is basically a decent man who has gone astray.
But perhaps we might question Spencer's characterization of this foursome. His attribution of flaws to the victimized spouses make it somewhat easier to elicit a few drops of sympathy for the wayward characters, who seem to really have no psychological deficits other than that they are unfaithful. Sure Daniel is passive, and lacks ambition, but Kate has no difficulty with this. How would this tale have spun out if the two victimized people had been a bit less flawed?
All in all SP does a good job of portraying the turmoil and destruction to relationships caused by an extramarital affair. Does everything work out in the end? That you will have to find out for yourself.
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By A Customer on Nov. 30 2003
Format: Hardcover
After all the hype and praise I read about this book, I had high expectations. Generally speaking, Im a fan of Scott Spencer and have enjoyed his work immensly in the past. Its not that this is an awful book, so to speak, it has its merit and I made my way through it fairly quickly. The problem, I think, is that it never really connects with the audience...the characters are largely unlikable, unsympathetic, and unconvincing, and I never quite believed their all consuming "passion" for each other to the point that was needed to really get into the story. WHile I applaud Scott for addressing the issue of interracial romance, I agree that certain elements of the story and the characters felt uncomfortably like racism on the part of the author. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that this wasnt his intention, but in particular his portrayal of black males struck me as stereotypical and racist. Not only is Iris's husband an angry, distant jerk, but more disturbingly, her preschool age son is described as an emerging sociopath, beating up and brandishing guns in the faces of his white playmates with no remorse. And Iris is a confusing and undefined character herself, its almost impossible for the audience to get a handle on her. Additionally, her sense of discomfort with her race bothered me in terms of what the author was getting at. IN all fairness, the white characters do not fair that much better: Daniel is wimpy, selfish and unlikable, for the most part, and Kate is a bitter, acid-tongued lush (except that unlike most characters written in this style, she doesnt even at least have the attribute of getting any truly funny wisecracks in). Mostly, the Greek tragedy-styled ending annoyed me......Read more ›
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