Posted by: Gary Niebuhr
I went on vacation recently and I decided to use my Kindle for the trip. Without any planning ahead, I was forced to hit the “currently available” button in the Wisconsin Digital Library to see what I could download immediately before getting on the plane.
One of the first books to pop up was The Paperboy by Pete Dexter. Dexter is an author I can remember having on my TBR pile at some point and I am even willing to venture to say that some RA librarian (most likely David Wright) recommended him to me at some point. So, The Paperboy and vacation it was.
For a reading like myself, the choice could not have been better. The basic plot of The Paperboy is that in a swampy county in Florida named Moat a man named William Ward James owns and operates the locale Moat County Tribune. He has his legacy pegged to his eldest son Ward who has become a successful writer at the Miami Times. The catalyst action in the novel is when Ward, and a rather seemy reporter named Yardly Acheman, decide to write a story about a crime that took place in Moat County: the murder of racist sheriff Thurman Call by one of the local swamp dwellers, Hillary Van Wetter.
The story is narrated by William’s second and youngest son, Jack, who not only has to deal with his family’s squabbles but also must come to an understanding of the role played by femme fatale Charlotte Bless who has fallen in love with the death row inmate Call without having ever actually met the man. As he watches his brother’s stoic reaction to the violence that occurs in the novel, Jack must rate his own life against his brother’s.
This novel is a noir soup and very reminescent of a work like Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell which was made into a very good movie. Let us hope that The Paperboy has the same fate as it was only upon further review that I realized the reason why the Wisconsin Digital Library was featuring The Paperboy is that it has had a recently released big screen adaptation.
So if you have readers who love noir, if you want to do a novel into film discussion or if you just want to read a very good book, I would suggest The Paperboy will deliver what you want.