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Tuesday
Sep012009

1988

Paris Trout

By Pete Dexter

Original Publisher: Random House, Inc.
Current Publisher:
Penguin Books

Harold Augenbraum writes:

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. Such is Paris Trout (the eponymous anti-hero of the book). Lends money, cheats people, when they don’t pay what they owe instead of the courts he not only feels the right to shoot the people to whom he loaned the money but their family members (sounds a bit like a few national governments we could all name). Good to his wife, too, so much so that she locks him out of the bedroom and wants him out of the house and against his wishes attends the funeral of the man to whom he loaned money’s fourteen-year-old sister, whom Paris shot. And yet even though everyone knows he is guilty of murder why is it that he is still walking around free, well after the shooting. Well, perhaps it has something to do with paying people off. Or an underlying racism that doesn’t care if an innocent teenage girl is murdered in her own home. Venal and mortal sins abound in this book. It’s just downright chilling.

Harold Augenbraum is Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, an editor and translator.


ISBN: 9780140122060

Fiction Finalists that Year:

  • Don DeLillo for Libra
  • Mary McGarry Morris for Vanished
  • James F. Powers for Wheat That Springeth Green
  • Anne Tyler for Breathing Lessons

Fiction Judges that Year: Not available

The Year in Literature:  

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
  • Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

More Information:

Early in his career, Pete Dexter was a columnist for several newspapers, including the Philadelphia Daily News. He began writing fiction after a 1981 incident in which thirty drunken Philadelphians in the neighborhood of Grays Ferry, armed with baseball bats and upset by a recent column about a drug deal-related murder, beat Dexter severely. The brother of the homicide victim was a bartender at a Grays Ferry bar, and Dexter went to the bar to talk to him. As a result of the beating, Dexter was hospitalized with a several injuries, including a broken back.

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