Tuesday, 3 May 2011

One Red Paperclip

One Red Paperclip, by Kyle MacDonald was a genuine worldwide sensation, even before Kyle MacDonald had written one word of the book. Because, it seemed that just about everyone in the world had heard all about Kyle MacDonald and his one red paperclip.

The story about Kyle MacDonald is basically this.

Kyle MacDonald was looking for a job. Well, he should have been looking for a job, but somehow all he was doing was looking at a pile of resumes he should have sent out, feeling guilty that he was, basically, living off his girlfriend who he lived with. He wanted a house for them both. But how could he get one, with no permanent job?

What could he do? He was getting some gigs around Canada and the United States of America helping promote a special device that was designed to stop restaurant tables wobbling. (Great invention. I think it should be made mandatory for ALL eating places!) But that wasn't getting enough money to enable Kyle to pay his way at home. Kyle seemed to be a bit of a slacker. Well, perhaps if not a slacker, then he showed certain slacker tendencies!

As he sat there, he thought of a game he used to play as a child. It was the Bigger and Better game. The rules of the game were simple. You had to try to swap something you had for something that was bigger and better and owned by someone else.

Could he play something similar in adulthood? This set him thinking. What could he trade? Then he saw it.

Just one red paperclip holding together his resume. (That's a CV to us British folk!)
Why not swap that for something bigger and better?

Emboldened by the sheer scope of his idea, he put a posting on a website and soon swapped his red paperclip for a wooden pen which was made in the form of an animated fish.
After that, there was no stopping him!

He swapped the pen for a homemade doorknob, the doorknob for a camping stove and 14 swaps later (and some hilarious and some moving adventures all over the USA and Canada, he ended up (one year later) with a house for his girlfriend and himself.

The book contains some of Kyle's homespun wisdom, and although this does sometimes wear a little bit thin, generally they do add somewhat to the flavour of the book. And, after all, they do show some of the reasons as to why Kyle did what he did. Kyle is obviously a deeply thoughtful young man.

His girlfriend figures in the book (as one might expect) as does the workshirt of Kyle's brother. Which also leads to another swap that helped speed things along. Quite literally.

During his swaps Kyle meets and hangs out with Alice Cooper and actor Corbin Bernsen, and makes what seems on the face of it an utterly ludicrous swap, only to see it fit in with a rather weird foible of Corbin Bernsen, and thus proved to be a pivotal swap on the way to Kyle and his girlfriend getting that house.

The book is well written, well illustrated with photographs of the various swaps, swappers and swappees and is well worth buying. 

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