Monday, December 15, 2008

"A Ship Made of Paper" - Scott Spencer


This National Book Award finalist was the ideal carrot for motivating me through a pile of essay-grading today. Read 10 papers, read 10 pages. Throw the student writing away, then devour the book. Try plan A again. Fail.

Daniel is a model husband-father to Kate and Ruby, though he is not married or the natural dad. Still, he is devoted to them, except for the part of his heart that yearns for Iris, the mom of Ruby's best little buddy at daycare.

While Kate continues on a downward spiral of drinking and obsessing over the O.J. Simpson trial, Daniel and Iris begin an affair. Iris, who is a reluctant African-American ("I don't relate to my race," she says"), is too afraid to leave her buttoned-up husband, so the entire small town soon knows of their indiscretions.

Scott Spencer is a master at passionate, romantic writing. He makes armpit hair sexy. While the play on racial tensions didn't work for me, the taut storytelling more than made up for it.

4.0 out of 5.0 Sex on the Grass.

1 comment:

Pamala Knight said...

Thanks for the review. I read this book long ago,when it first debuted and my thoughts were much the same as yours.

Spencer took my breath away with his writing talent. His style is lush and I enjoyed all of the characterizations. His failing was in trying to convey the depths of the racial conflict and by conflict, I mean Iris' discomfort with the affair because of the difference. Daniel's passion for Irish is well written, though. We feel his yearning for her, keenly.

Again, I appreciate the review. Maybe I'll dig up my copy and re-read it.