Books by Paul Samuel Jacobs

Released: May 1, 1997

Jacobs (Sleepers, Wake, 1991) makes clear the tragedy of an artist inhibited by the circumstances of his birth in this unusual historical novel, set during a brutal English-Indian war in 17th-century Massachusetts. James Printer is a Nipmuck Indian who is taken in and reared by Master Henry Dunster at Harvard College after the boy's mother dies. The day he first sees a book, ``a thing covered in leather and divided into thin, white pieces like leaves,'' is ``the first day of my life.'' He becomes an apprentice in the printing shop of Samuel Green, whose 11-year-old son, Bartholomew, narrates. Wise, dignified, and gentle, James is caught in the war and forced to flee. Bartholomew struggles with his own mastery of printing, dotes on his cousin Annie, and documents the penny-pinching complaints of his father in a manner suggestive of contemporary children rolling their eyes at their parents. He witnesses the extreme brutality of warfare: hangings and beheadings, with heads perched on sticks as gruesome trophies. Through Bartholomew, Jacobs elucidates the nature of war, of good men, and evil ones, and makes his discussions intensely accessible to readers. The story moves swiftly to the gratifying depiction of the production of the second Indian Bible. In an afterword, Jacobs describes his contact with one of Printer's books, an encounter that only makes this novel more vital. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
SLEEPERS, WAKE by Paul Samuel Jacobs
Released: April 1, 1991

As Dody and his family travel toward their new home on spaceship Wanderer, a computer glitch wakes the boy 50 years early. By the time the others awake, Dody has a grandfather's body and has taught himself to be a concert organist and ship's navigator; still, everyone treats him like a little kid. But Dody's skill and knowledge are invaluable on the new planet; instead of the expected colony established by a first ship, the settlers find a few fearful old men—the only adult survivors- -plus hordes of strange, identical children made by another inhabitant, a gigantic mind that has copied the earlier ship's children. The copies try to capture Dody and his family, but the latter win free, taking with them the one copy who seems to be an ally—only to find that he, too, is an enemy. Unfortunately, the clever, original idea here is dissipated into meandering and meaningless derring-do. The poignancy of a little boy turned grandfather is never developed; the few scientific ``facts'' are badly muddled—e.g., one character (who's described as the greatest scientific mind since Einstein) exhibits a complete misunderstanding of the theory of relativity by saying that since the ship's mass becomes infinite as it approaches the speed of light it might tear itself apart. Good idea, poor follow-through. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >