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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

Pretentious and unfocused

This meandering, self-important book meanders from north Florida to south Florida in search of a plot and in search of a theme. Is it justice denied? Is the theme the importance of family? Is it the value of good journalism? Yes, no and maybe.

The Paperboy is about three newspapermen - two brothers (one with no personality and one that can't figure out what he wants to do except hang around the newspaper for a lack of anyplace else to go) and their father (he's just as annoying as his sons - maybe more so - because at one point he has a personality but by the end of the book he's faded, too).

It's also about corrupt local politics that, in the end, did the right thing when they stuck a man in jail with inconclusive evidence. It even includes a sexism, racism, class-bias and even gay-bashing. Dexter tries to write the "Great American Novel" and it shows. He tries too hard and, in the end, he gets nowhere because he is unfocused. Too many themes and none is developed.

A bit of unasked for advice to Dexter - keep the story simple to make the point better. Look to the example provided by "Of Mice and Men" - a simple plot full of simple, living characters that illustrate deep and profound thoughts on life. By contrast, Dexter flounders around so much with his ghostly characters that he just irritated this reader.

I rate this book 1 star out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: The Paperboy

Reviewed on March 7, 2005.

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