The Paperboy (novel)

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The Paperboy
Author Pete Dexter
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Delta
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN 0-385-31572-4

The Paperboy is a 1995 novel published by American author Pete Dexter.

Plot summary[edit]

Hillary Van Wetter has been jailed for the murder of an unscrupulous local sheriff, Thurmond Call. Call had previously stomped Wetter's handcuffed cousin to death. Wetter is now on death row and awaiting execution. In prison Wetter receives correspondence from Charlotte Bless, a woman he has never met but who has fallen in love with him and is determined that he should be released and that they should marry.

Bless provokes immense sexual tension in any situation, given her beauty and presence. Bless attempts to prove Wetter's innocence by enlisting the support of two investigative reporters from a Miami newspaper hungry for a salacious story: the ambitious Yardley Acheman and the naive, idealistic Ward James, who hails from the small town where Van Wetter is imprisoned and has mixed feelings about returning home.

The evidence against Wetter is inconsistent and the writers are confident that if they can expose Wetter as a victim of redneck justice then their story will be a potential Pulitzer Prize winner. However during the path of the prize, tricks of the journalist's trade are played, corners are cut, facts are fudged which later causes Jack Ward to do a little investigating for his own. In which shows some small inconsistencies that had been ignored earlier. Still at this time Yardley sleeps with Charlotte. With the newspapermen's support, Wetter is released from prison and the pair win the Pulitzer Prize. It soon becomes apparent that the writers misjudged Wetter. After marrying Charlotte, Wetter murders her. Consumed by guilt, Ward commits suicide.[1]


The New York Times described the work as an "eerie and beautiful novel".[2] The reviewer added that "the pacing works to the novel's advantage, forcing us to linger in its eerie emotional straits."[3] Entertainment Weekly gave the novel a B+, describing it as "a wise and fascinating tale well told".[4] The novel was also awarded the PEN Center USA literary award for fiction in 1996.[5]

Film adaptation[edit]

Screen adaptation plans have been going on for over ten years between Dexter and Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Millennium Falcon picked up US distribution rights to the film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[6] Lee Daniels directed, with Almodovar producing[7] the project began in summer 2011. Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron star in the film, with Oscar winner Nicole Kidman taking on the role of Charlotte.[8] The film was shown at the 2012 festival at Cannes.


  1. ^ The Paperboy Enotes. Retrieved on 28 June 2011
  2. ^ The Damaged Remnant of a Son The New York Times. 22 January 1995. p.4/4
  3. ^ The Damaged Remnant of a Son The New York Times. 22 January 1995. p.2/4
  4. ^ The Paperboy Entertainment Weekly. 27 January 1995
  5. ^ Taking PEN in Hand : Literary Honors for 1996 Give a Boost to 13 Writers, From Poets to Journalists to Novelists and Critics Los Angeles Times. 11 June 1996
  6. ^ Cannes: Millennium/Nu Image To Deliver 'The Paperboy' Deadline. 13 May 2011
  7. ^ Sofia Vergara Cancels 'The Paperboy' Deadline. 23 June 2011
  8. ^ Nicole Kidman in Talks to Join Lee Daniels' 'Paperboy' Amid Cast Shuffle (Exclusive) The Hollywood Reporter. 27 June 2011