by Leonard Gill
"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you … Thank you."
Those were the words of author Vince Vawter when news reached him by phone earlier this week — 6:43 a.m., Monday, January 27th, to be exact.
The news was that his novel Paperboy (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) has been recognized by the American Library Association as a 2014 Newbery Honor Book. But as Vawter recently wrote on his website, "Instead of having something witty and original to say, I was the perfect bumbling and blabbering Academy Award recipient I always chastise. They have my sympathy now."
The Flyer spoke to Vawter and to Olswanger back in May 2013, when Paperboy appeared. The Flyer reached Vawter this morning for further reaction to this week's good news.
"One of the most interesting by-products of Paperboy was hearing from several dozen residents and former residents of Central Gardens," Vawter said by email. "I even heard from at least four former paperboys who had routes in the neighborhood. I did want the neighborhood to be almost a character in the novel, and apparently I accomplished that.
"One reader, though, chastised me a little for getting the number of the Crosstown bus wrong. I remembered it as the No. 5. He said it was the No. 7. I stand corrected.
"My true appreciation for the Newbery Honor is that more people now will have a chance to read my story, a story which I continue to believe to be worthwhile in the telling."
The Newbery judges certainly thought it worth telling. As did Vawter's agent, Anna Olswanger, who recognized Paperboy's value early on.
"Somewhere along the line, I think after Vince had finished his revisions for Delacorte, I remarked to him that Paperboy was the book he was put here to write," Olswanger said, also by email. "With his years of experience as a reporter for the Press-Scimitar, Vince knew how to capture the paperboy's world of 1959 Memphis, its racism and its humanity. It is a book I am proud to be the agent for."
Look for Paperboy in paperback in early April. •