- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Paperboy might well be called "Portrait of the Mechanical Genius as a Young Man." Whether the reader is already familiar with Petroski's surprisingly engaging books or comes to Paperboy unacquainted with his fascinating stories about the creation and significance of everyday objects, this book is both entertaining and edifying.
In previous books, Petroski took on the history of invention, giving the reader a sense of the social context in which objects we take for granted were developed and explaining the evolution of items like forks, paper clips, and pencils. In this endeavor, Petroski takes on nothing less than himself. In the same way that he described in fascinating detail how the humble paper clip came to be, we get to see how Henry Raymond Joseph Petroski came up in the world. His happy, quirky Catholic childhood in Queens, New York, during the 1950s comes alive with remembrances and observations that illuminate his organized and intensely focused view of the universe.
Bicycles played a big role in Petroski's boyhood years. As he says, "A poet can see a world in a grain of sand, so an engineer, even a budding one, can see a bicycle in a ball of steel." The passion begins when he gets a new bike and figures out how to put it together by himself. But the motif reappears when he gets a job at Sam's Bike Store; here he describes in loving detail how he became transfixed as his fingers separated lock nuts from wheel nuts, spoke nipples from needle valves, hubcaps from bearing cones. And through his eyes, the excitement of being allowed to use a spoke wrench for the first time to tighten a small nut on a bicycle wheel takes on a significance that feels almost holy.
Petroski writes about his early life with great clarity, conveying a quiet pleasure in the act of remembrance, so that the tale of his humble beginnings becomes a meaningful journey for the reader. (Judith Estrine)