Review: Dude, 'One Red Paperclip' is about fun, not thinking

ByABC News
August 20, 2007, 6:30 AM

— -- It takes most people a few jobs, a few promotions and a few years (or maybe more) to finally buy their first house.

Then comes along a young man who has a simpler idea: Why not trade a paper clip for a house?

No, that's not a typo.

In the first years of the 21st century, there lived a man some would call Kyle MacDonald a slacker who held infrequent jobs, lived off his girlfriend's salary and believed that he could somehow trade his way from a single paper clip to a house, a real one, like the kind people live in.

It's difficult to talk about MacDonald's book, One Red Paperclip, without sounding as if one is crafting an elaborate April Fools' joke, so let's jump into the basic idea.

In 2005, MacDonald, then 25 and "between jobs," set out with a red paper clip, a basic understanding of Craigslist (the online classified ads bulletin board) and the dream to trade the paper clip for something a little bigger and a little better.

Whatever he got in the first trade he would trade for something else, a little bigger and a little better.

One year, 14 trades and countless half-baked offers later, MacDonald moved into his new house (three bedrooms, 1,100 square feet, two floors) in Kipling, in the Saskatchewan province of Canada.

Having pulled off the trade of the century, MacDonald then believed he could write a book about it all and that someone other than his mother would want to read it.

Somehow, though he's not much of a writer, MacDonald has pulled this feat off as well.

One Red Paperclip is packed with clichés and the sort of writing that would make an expository writing teacher cringe.

His book reads something like the prose a 14-year-old would use in a note passed in the hallway to his best friend.

Sample any page, and the reader will stumble across phrases such as: "Iso didn't believe her" and "I was jacked on caffeine. Super jacked."

The irreverent, if-you-believe-it-you-can-do-it thing can sustain itself only for so long, though.