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Paris Trout (signed) by Pete Dexter
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Paris Trout (signed) (original 1988; edition 1988)

by Pete Dexter

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971208,867 (3.93)46
Member:PBlock
Title:Paris Trout (signed)
Authors:Pete Dexter
Info:Random House (1988), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 306 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Signed PB, 1st

Work details

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter (1988)

  1. 00
    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both books take place in the south, though in different states. The underlying racial tone is very similar.
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» See also 46 mentions

English (19)  Italian (1)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
***SPOILERS***

A National Book Award winner, this was an easy book to read. It is nicely paced and the story flows well. The antagonist is very hate-able, and the other characters are very flawed, yet likable. Kind of.

I don't mind reading books that have a negative storyline. It doesn't bother me to read about violence, sexual situations, or bad language. If it supports and enhances the characters, I am all for it. However, I have an issue with shocking things that seem to come out of nowhere, add nothing to the story in the least, and doesn't help to fill out a character. That happened for me too often in this book. I also have a problem with lost opportunities to make readers take pause and ponder themes presented in the course of a story. That, too, happened too often.

The characters seems rich in detail, until you start to look closer. Why did Paris' mother tremble when her son was in the room? What kind of childhood did he have? Why did he take her with him at the end?

What was up with those hand-jobs of the Bonners? What was wrong with Carl's wife, that she couldn't fit into the community?

And what on earth was wrong with Hanna? Was she just so broken that she had become stoic? Was she so closed off that she saw herself helping Seagroves come to terms with his own emotions, but felt that she was too far gone for help? And what was the purpose of cutting her foot, taking those baths, and acting so vacuous?

Paris Trout, on the surface, is a story of a bigoted and psychotic man. There is really no more substance to the book than that. There is no "old south" truth here. There is no redemption in showing a culture that has grown, leaving a man behind. There was so much room for more, and Dexter didn't come through. He could have provided more of a commentary on the struggle of a bigoted Southern man coming to terms with undue hatred. He could have shown a flawed logic in elevating a man simply because he has money, but no scruples. He could have shown the emptiness of living in hate, and the richness of love and forgiveness, even though you are physically destitute. He could have compared and contrasted relationships/marriages/friendships.

Yet, he did not. He wrote a surface story of hate, justice, and revenge. I found very little to take away, otherwise.

Recommended in that this is an award-winning novel, but it won't make you think as deeply as Dexter wanted you to. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
PARIS TROUT, the National Book Award Winner for Fiction in 1988, is a flawless work. Paris Trout is a resident of Cotton Point, Georgia; an arrogant solitary man who abuses his wife both psychologically and physically, he commits a crime which sends reverberations throughout the community.
Paris’ mental state deteriorates as he fights against being held accountable for his senseless actions. His attorney and his wife both realize he is disturbed. A feeling of doom seeps into the story and builds until the fateful ending.
Pete Dexter brilliantly weaves the stories of the residents of a small town in 1950’s Georgia. He effectively draws a variety of personalities and connected storylines - hinting at past indiscretions, exploring people’s private thoughts, and thoroughly bringing his characters to life. I could feel the stifling culture with its simmering hostility.
I would recommend PARIS TROUT to everyone who enjoys great literature. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
~Stephanie ( )
  BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
The murder of a child during a botched debt collection is the pivot point for this racially charged, character-strong book, written in 1987 and set in mid century rural Georgia. And the title character, one Paris Trout, is a doozy. Mean as the day is long and increasingly demented as the story grows, he and those connected to him in the town of Cotton Point - from the abused, enigmatic wife to his stalwart but torn attorney, to the brash young lawyer fresh out of law school - all have their own demons to face. This is a very well written, suspense-laden tale. In my view, as a native Georgian, the tale is authentic in its atmosphere and the relative subservience of the local black populace. Trout is a menacing presence you'll not soon forget if you read this. ( )
  JamesMScott | Mar 13, 2015 |
This is a very good novel about a terrible man who does some terrible things and is largely supported in his violent, antisocial behavior by the society in which he lives. While Paris Trout is the central character and the catalyst for the story, the book is simply a portrait of an evil man. It is a portrait of a social structure that finds it impossible to contain the behavior of such a man. Trout is an outsider with a sour disposition. He abuses his wife. He takes advantage of the black community with high-interest loans. And he ultimately kills a fourteen-year-old girl when he's enraged over not being able to collect a debt from one of her relatives. But Trout is a local businessman with enormous financial resources, and the white community finds it difficult to prosecute him effectively.

The character of Trout is consistently unrepentant and uncompromising. He is the embodiment of the society's worst faults, with no inclination to cover them over with polite talk or deferential behavior. Like the inexplicable motivations of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello, his reasons are always his own, without clear explanation. Even though discussion of this book seems frequently to settle on racism as a primary subject of the book, that is only one facet of what's going on in this story. To let the story go by with only that as the element of its critique is to avoid the more sweeping social criticism, which can be seen to touch us all. Trout's behavior is the manifestation of those societal compromises every civilization makes to varying degrees. Racism is obvious, because this book is set in the American South after World War II. Yet there is also a clear corruption of the social order by the unchallenged belief that money and wealth represent the highest good. Legal justice becomes a commodity that wealth and community standing can help to buy. Seemingly intolerable behavior becomes impossible to oppose when societal rules dictate that we pretend not to see injuries and abuses.

Trout too is a problematic character in that his behavior has grown increasingly erratic over the years. It seems likely that he has always been a difficult man with numerous faults, yet those negative traits have intensified with time. His violent episodes in the book may be evidence of mental problems that finally grew too difficult to control. Trout became "poisoned," just like the rabid foxes in the opening passages of the book, and became a wild animal that ran out of control. Like every story that includes a rabid animal, there is only one way it can end. ( )
  phredfrancis | Feb 8, 2014 |
Paris Trout is both a relentless and subtle novel. It starts out disturbing and never really lets up.

In Cotton Point, Ether County, Georgia, Paris Trout, a local businessman and money lender to the poor, shoots and kills Rosie Sayers, a young black girl, in an altercation about money owed him.

Rosie, who has had a short, difficult life, is in the wrong house at the wrong time. “The things that frightened her worst never came to her in a way she could see them.”

Local attorney Harry Seagraves is hesitant to defend Trout. “A man like Paris Trout could rub his right and wrong up against the written law for ten minutes and occupy half a year of Harry Seagrave’s time straightening it out.”

Trout is true only to himself. “There was a contract he’d made with himself a long time ago that overrode the law, and being the only interested party, he lived by it.”

Trout terrorizes a small segment of the Cotton Point population for several years as he loses both his mind and his many legal appeals.

Written in 1987, the violent climax is mild compared with what we have become used to now, with extensive press coverage being given to horrific mass shootings that claim more lives than Paris Trout could ever hope to. But that doesn’t detract from the power of the story. ( )
  Hagelstein | Oct 11, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Wow, there’s nothing like an unrepentant villain to make your skin crawl, some psychotic menace who terrorizes an entire town and makes you feel self-righteous about your own minor moral failings.
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

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Pete Dexterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Negrini, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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murder of black by white trial, racist, Georgia
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140122060, Paperback)

In this novel of social drama, a casual murder in the small Georgia town of Cotton Point just after World War II and the resulting court case cleave open the ugly divisions of race and class. The man accused of shooting a black girl, a storekeeper named Paris Trout, has no great feeling of guilt, nor fear that the system will fail to work his way. Trout becomes an embarrassment to the polite white society that prefers to hold itself high above such primitive prejudice. But the trial does not allow any hiding from the stark reality of social and racial tensions. Dexter, a former newspaper columnist, is also the author of Deadwood and God's Pocket. Paris Trout won the 1988 National Book Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A respected white citizen of Cotton Point, Georgia, Paris Trout is a shopkeeper, a money-lender, and a murderer of blacks. And his friends, family and foes do not realize the danger they face in a man who simply will not see his own guilt.#Penguin.

(summary from another edition)

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