Friday, May 23, 2008

A Ship Made of Paper by Scott Spencer

"We were both caught in something so large and so terrible. His people came over in chains and my people sat on the porch sipping gin. Something that begins that badly can never end well..."

Daniel is a lawyer, who recently moved back to his small hometown, just south of NYC. He was forced to leave the city when a black man he was defending didn't get off, and a few other black men decide Daniel is too blame. After being thrown down a flight of stairs, Daniel becomes terrified of every African-American he sees, and flees the city.

But when Daniel returns home he meets Iris, a black woman. He believes he is in love with her, but it is not her marriage that keeps him from her, so much as her race. The story begins with their flirtation and ends with the futile continuation of their affair.

I don't really know what I thought of the book. It made some good points, and made them cleverly, but still the plot and dialog were very crass, and it was difficult to root for any of the characters.

A few things that stuck out to me were:
  • Contrasts are drawn between two other men in the town who are having public affairs, which are not condemned even though they are with minors, because the young women are white.
  • Daniel and Iris want to have a child together so that they can create "raceless" offspring.
  • When Iris is no longer in love with her husband she asks him to rape and sodomize her.
  • Iris never indicates an awareness that she shares her name with a flower that is, ironically, not black.
Everyone in the story ends up changed, but no happier, but something that begins that badly can never end well.

No comments: