Wednesday, March 7, 2018

PAPERBOY by Vince Vawter

This novel may be more suited to young readers, but I couldn’t resist the story of an 11-year-old paperboy in 1959 in my hometown of Memphis.  My brother also had a paper route for the Memphis Press-Scimitar and threw the afternoon papers from his Spyder bike with a banana seat.  I think my brother dreaded collecting from his customers almost as much as the boy in this novel did, although not for the same reason.  In this book, the paperboy in question has a stuttering problem, which makes conversation, with adults or other kids, difficult.  Also, he is paperboy for only a month, subbing for a friend who is spending the month of July on his grandparents’ farm.  Most of his customers leave their payments in an envelope, but two of the ones he has to speak with are his favorites.  One is a beautiful woman with a drinking problem and an abusive husband.  The other is a former seaman with a vast collection of books and an unusual manner of speaking.  The boy harvests some life lessons from encounters with these two customers, as well as from his black housekeeper/babysitter, whom he calls Mam.  Both the boy and Mam have an impetuous streak, which doesn’t always serve them well.  The most important lesson, though, is one about love, and the paperboy figures that one out for himself.  This was a nostalgia trip worth taking, as well as a reminder that the 1950s were not as rosy as some people think.


Carol N Wong said...

Some of the best stories are written for children.

PattisPages said...

So true, Carol.