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A Ship Made Of Paper Paperback – 1 Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099471256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099471257
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A Ship Made of Paper is a tempestuous, absorbing journey into the human psyche." Time Out "Astonishing...Shrewd, compassionate and unflinching, this new book takes a perilous journey that leaves readers stranded on the shoals with nothing for protection but their own flimsy, sinking beliefs about race and desire..." San Francisco Chronicle "[An] intelligent, extremely powerful novel" Daily Mail "Irresistible" Time

Book Description

'Scott Spencer is a wonderful writer.' Anne TylerA riveting and unflinching novel of an interracial love affair that threatens to destroy two families and injure everyone close to them. Devastating. Comparable to Andre Dubus III's House of Sand and Fog in its power.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this novel. Daniel Emerson a lawyer, is obsessed with a married Iris Davenport, his non-stop pursuit of her ended in the beginning of a perilous and torrid affair.

This story takes place in a small town in America, between a white male and a black female. The writer tackles intelligently the subject of racism. This is no flimsy, spindless romance novel. The writers methaphoric description of most of the characters, had me laughing profusely,the descriptions were so funny,yet so true(having lived in the USA for many years)........

I don't know how to feel about the character Daniel, he appears to be compassionate and caring, with his undying love and affection for his girlfriend's daughter Rudy. Yet i'm indecisive,is he a wholesome person?

i kept asking myself (sigh). I often times felt sorry for the 2 main characters, yet angry at their wayward and deceptive behaviour, in this destructive affair. I sometimes see Daniel as being selfish and pathetic, yet caring and empathising. Iris i see as some what clinical, yet her being with Daniel revealed a totally different side of her personality. Gripping and intelligently written story. a must read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony Laforce on 30 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never read a book when I ended up not liking any of the characters: Sorry, from now on there are some bits of information which will spoil it for you if you wish to read the book.

Daniel, even though it was clear he loved Iris and the little girl Ruby. I found him indecisive, weak and culturally lacking in terms of African Americans.

Iris, yes she wanted to be with Daniel, but her own weakness and inability to take control of her life I found sad. Her unhappiness at being an African American was also sad.

Hampton, lived a life of wanting to meet every one else's expectation; socially and culturally. A sad man.

As for Kate, lonely, insecure and unable in my view to love a man. She also clearly has some bitterness about African American.

I cannot say I enjoyed this novel. I found the premise interesting and at least wanted to see what happened. When i did reach the end, it was a mixture of relief and well it is over. However, to anyone, its probably worth a read, but I doubt you will enjoy it.

As for the writer Scott Spencer, I will look in the future as to what he he writes, but whether I buy it......
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 80 reviews
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Endless Lust? 6 Jun 2003
By H. F. Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I read several years ago ENDLESS LOVE, a novel I liked immensely and was therefore eager to start this one. The novel is certainly an easy read. You can race right through it. It's all about Daniel Emerson's obsession with Iris Davenport and his pursuit of her come hell or high water as he rides out his passion in a fragile "paper boat," if you want to mix your metaphors. The characters for the most part are well developed although I thought Iris's husband may have been almost a stereotype. Spencer tackles head-on the dicey subject of an affair between a black woman and white man, certainly an area not every writer is willing to explore.
Having finished the novel, I was troubled by the character Daniel, however. Although his lover Kate continuously describes him as a good man, I'm not at all sure he is. I believe the moral question is this: does anyone have a right to insist on getting whatever he thinks he wants, no matter who gets hurt or destroyed along the way, in order that he can have an all consuming affair? There are of course similarities in Daniel and the young man in ENDLESS LOVE who, as I recall, in a fit of passionate love, burns down the home the young girl he's crazy about lives in. We may be able to forgive youth their folly. I'm not sure we can overlook as easily the sins of people entering middle age.
Having said that, if you accept the premise that everyone here gets hurt or destroyed, you'll find this compelling reading.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I totally disagree with some of the other reviewers. 4 Jun 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulous read, and a gorgeous, sexy, lusty and insightful story. A Ship Made of Paper is an important book, not just for its comments about race in modern day America, but also for its sly depiction of modern day love. I've never read any Scott Spencer before A Ship Made of Paper, but I can assure you that I was just "blown away" by this story. This story doesn't have any pretensions, but it can't help being an absolutely sensational melodrama. I thought the characterizations of all four characters - Iris, Daniel, Hampton, and Kate were spot on. He is such an honest writer in the way he exemplifies all their insecurities on sex, race, family, and infidelity.
Spencer shows that is affairs of the heart there are no easy answers, which is why I think the book ended as it did. Iris and Daniel just couldn't stop loving each other. But of course, the real irony of the story was the totally innocent relationship between the two children, Ruby and Nelson - one black, one white. This is a haunting and intelligent love story, that is sly, cynical and yet at the same time an incredibly astute character study of middle class American life. I also thought the story provided an interesting depiction of small town American life, and it was somewhat debunking the myth that "safety" lies in small towns. Of course, the title "A Ship Made of Paper" is totally symbolic of the fragility of human relationships, and how they can so easily be destroyed by the pursuit reckless romantic love.
Wickedly insightful and passionate - this is a must read.
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A missed opportunity. 4 Jun 2003
By Lori Woolridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I would have given this less than one star if I could. It took me weeks to read this book. It made me so angry that I would put it down for days. To his credit, I had to continue reading it to the end to see if Mr. Spencer would somehow redeem himself. Sadly,he did not.
As a reader, this book was such a huge disappointment. Billed as a love story, the plot was weak and plodding. The characters and setting were boring and the lovers (all of them) had NO chemistry.
As a black woman this book was offensive and truly irritating. I am so sad that many folks will pick this drival up and confirm their stereotypes of African American people. Every black person in this book is dreary, unimaginative and negative. The author managed to cover every stereotype imaginable...
The successful but angry black man who is an unfeeling, sexual beast with his 'woman' on the weekend while cheating on her with prostitutes during the week. And naturally he is a distant father to his 'aggressive' son, the only black child in the school who is beating up all the white kids. The black 'gang' of juvenile home escapees who terrorize, Miss White Lady. How is it that in a town with no black people you manage to have a whole 'gang' of young black men incarcerated?
The depiction of Iris is the most disturbing of all. A woman who hated being black because it was such a burden and yet loved living in a small town where the waitresses wouldn't even serve her coffee did not ring true. Yet she claimed she loved it there because "there were so few neighborhoods with African-Americans where she could live with her family and garden and ski... News flash, Mr. Spencer, a black woman whose husband worked on Wall Street and could afford to have an apartment in the city and a house in the country could well afford to live in a number of communities with sizeable A-A populations right outside of New York City. Montclair, South Orange, Maplewood, Summit, Short Hills (in Jersey alone). How about New Rochelle in NY? And by the way, most of the Black folks out here in the suburbs garden, ski, golf, play tennis, go antiquing...and don't think twice about being black on a daily basis. We're too busy worrying about our children, our marriages, our parents, our friends, the furnace that needs replacing and so on... just like everyone else.
Most disturbing were the love scenes between her and her black husband. Her request that he rape her? Anal sex? No loving tenderness between such animals, huh?
This author should be ashamed of himself. If not, I'm ashamed for him.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Wha? 25 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I gave this book a 2 because the writing is excellent. However, the characters are all unlikeable. They act irresponsibly and disrespectfully and none of them seems to learn anything. The whole race thing seems disassociated. Daniel and Iris are not torn apart because of color. They're torn apart because they are in committed relationships with other people and worse, kids are involved. I disagree with some of the other reviewers that the ending is unsatisfying; there is no ending. What about Hampton? Will their son improve or become a serial killer? Is Iris pregnant and why would that be a good thing at that point? Will Kate get on with her life and move back to NYC already? It doesn't have to be tied up in a neat little package, but give me something.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful read 29 Sep 2006
By Book lover in Philadelphia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is my first Scott Spencer book, and I will definitely seek out his previous works. I loved this book, and could identify with many of the characters. Mr. Spencer writes beautifully, his decriptions of people, places and situations are unconventional and startling. The book's main theme is obsession, and how it can destroy the lives of many. It doens't have the happiest of endings, but it was extremely well-written and enjoyable.
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