Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Paperboy by Tony Macaulay

Newspapers nowadays seem to be delivered by adults driving cars, not neighborhood boys or girls tromping up and down streets on foot or riding on bikes and flinging the paper end over end to land on your doorstep early every morning. But in Tony Macaulay's memoir of almost two years of his life as a paperboy in the late 1970s, this cherished image of kids delivering the paper still stands.

Macaulay was an almost 12 year old boy living in Belfast, Ireland when he won the coveted position of paperboy. This job gave him his own money and he took pride in doing his job. It was thrilling to be such a responsible kid. Along with his reminiscing, Macaulay has captured the everyday appeal of a happy childhood. Narrating from his pre-teen self's perspective, he remembers the obsession with fashion, music (specifically the Bay City Rollers), and girls. His observations are witty and entertaining and they are very Irish, with many of the colloquialisms and much of the slang likely to be unfamiliar to American readers.

Macaulay grew up during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. But by choosing to narrate his memoir from his childhood perspective, he manages to background much of the political atmosphere, religious divide, and violence. He was, of course, always aware of the danger and the fighting but he was equally aware of the thugs and bullies who would steal his paper route money from him if he wasn't ever vigilant. The book is told in self-contained chapters, which detail his loving family, the wants and desires of a kid in late 70s Ireland, his method of coping with the strife in his city, and his own pacifism. The tale is actually an ordinary one after all. There's not a whole lot driving the narrative; it's just snapshots of a young boy's everyday life. There are some hitches in the pacing and the occasional wrinkle in chronology but generally this was a funny and touching picture of the way people, and specifically kids, continue to live their lives even amidst a war.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I was a papergirl for two years. I don't think I could wring a book out of my memories though; it was a pretty dull time in suburban Houston.


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