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The Paperboy Hardcover – 1995


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Hardcover, 1995
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: The Franklin Library; First Edition edition (1995)
  • ASIN: B00507L34K
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Cogent story, well written.
J. Davis
This is a great book, just like the other Pete Dexter books -- you just can't go wrong with him.
Karlis Streips
I found the story to be somewhat interesting, however, the way it was told made it seem boring.
paty9221

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Karlis Streips on March 18, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read "Paris Trout" (which I picked up wondering what the City of Light and fish have to do with one another) and was hooked. Pete Dexter writes books about people you don't really want to know -- racists, violent men, drunks, people who are depressed to the point of dragging you down with them -- but he gets his hooks in you on page one and never lets go. "Paperboy" is basically about failure and how close we are to it even when it seems that life is going OK -- something can come into our lives that takes it all apart. The story is magnificently told in prose so tight that you can almost hear typewriter keys clicking away (Pete Dexter's books don't read like they were produced on a word processor). Best of all, there are the many places in the book where the words "as if" or "like" appear. Nobody does descriptive comparisons better. This is a great book, just like the other Pete Dexter books -- you just can't go wrong with him.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Adam Griffith on July 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading this book, and I've decided that being an enjoyable read is worth 3 stars. There were a couple of things that bothered me about it though.

It starts off as sort of a murder mystery, with a group of reporters investigating the murder of a sheriff in a sparsely populated county. The narrator is the brother of the reporter who heads the investigation. The plot eventually moves away from this theme, and becomes sort of jammed between a character study of the narrator and his brother, an indictment of media morality, and some sort of Greek-style tragedy. The overall effect is that the book wanders a bit, and doesn't seem to be able to decide what it's trying to do. It almost seemed like whenever the book got perilously close to making a statement, it backed off and went in a different direction. This is something of a pet peeve of mine, as I think sometimes writers do this kind of thing to seem mysterious and profound, under the assumption that being understandable means being simple and shallow.

Other than that, the book was well written and for the most part the characters were interesting, although most of them were not very likable. I think the book would have been better if the narrator's brother Ward, who was perhaps the central figure of the book, had a detectable personality instead of just acting like a journalistic robot. The book was saved by the narrator, whom it was possible to sympathize with, and even like.

Overall I would mildly recommend it, but don't feel like it is a must read.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Prufer on January 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pete Dexter is one of the most overlooked writers around. His style is beautifully lyrical, insightful with great characterization. Granted, his stories are dark examples of the human condition but well worth the journey. If you want a fast-moving plot, a pretty story or happy endings, you won't find them here. What you will find is some of the best writing you will ever read. I must admit to a bias here because Pete and I worked together in the '70s at a couple of newspapers so I consider him a friend. But I'm also a book editor and reviewer and read a lot, and I've read all Pete's books and consider this one of the best. Now, if he'll quit writing movie scripts ("Rush" and "Michael" to name a couple)long enough to write another fine novel, we'd all be happy!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Telling a dark story about investigative reporting and the people involved in it, Pete Dexter sets his story in 1965 - 1969, in Moat County, Florida. Jack James, the narrator, is a college dropout who works as a driver and general gofer for his idealistic brother Ward, a reporter for the Miami Times, and his writing partner, Yardley Acheman, an attention-seeking dandy. The two writers are investigating the possibility that Hillary Van Wetter, convicted of the murder of the sheriff in the town where Ward grew up, may have had an alibi--along with an incompetent attorney. Charlotte Bless, an attractive woman who has a fetish for death row inmates like Hillary, aids them by providing mountains of files she has collected about the murder.

As Ward and Yardley investigate, Dexter explores the newspaper business. Questions they raise about Van Wetter's legal counsel, a famous good-ol'-boy attorney, affect the reputation and popularity of Ward James's father, owner of the local newspaper, sending his ad revenues plummeting. When Ward is physically unable to continue working on the story, Acheman and an editor from Miami rush the story into print and the second phase of the novel begins.

Ward James and Yardley Acheman reflect the drive of reporters to succeed and their tendency to identify personally with their stories. The aftereffects of the reporters' investigation into the Van Wetter case, which constitute phase two, grow exponentially, further affecting the reporters, Ward James's father, Charlotte Bless, and, obviously Hillary Van Wetter, as the national media become involved. Along the way, Dexter raises ethical questions, not just about the ethics of reporting, but about the ability of the press to control outcomes and public perceptions.
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