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Paris Trout

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,774 ratings  ·  380 reviews
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 embarras ...more
Paperback, Contemporary American Fiction, 306 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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Robert Moss It could be that the author, Pete Dexter, chose to demonstrate just how crazy Paris becomes over the course of the story.
Paris puts two locks on the…more
It could be that the author, Pete Dexter, chose to demonstrate just how crazy Paris becomes over the course of the story.
Paris puts two locks on the front door of his house. Dexter makes note of this, he even has characters comment on it because most people in the book have only one lock on their front door, and they often leave their doors unlocked. Paris also removes the lock from Hanna's bedroom, but he never locks his own bedroom.
There are easier ways for Paris to tell if anyone came into his room, or to prevent people from coming in in the first place. For Paris to go to the trouble (and expense) to haul so many panes of glass to place on the floor of his bedroom (and, later, his hotel room) shows that Paris has lost his mind. The glass also proves not to be effective. Hanna quickly discovers that she can walk on the glass in her socks and not leave footprints.
Paris cannot discern reality, and that's why he does the things he does. (less)

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3.87  · 
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 ·  5,774 ratings  ·  380 reviews


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J. Kent Messum
The writers I enjoy most are men of few words. So much can be said with so little when done right and it's a testament to the mastery of the written word when an author achieves this. Like Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter's prose has just as much to do with what is left unsaid, as with what has been spoken. Both men have an acute sense of southern darkness and weave worlds out of flesh, bone, and bleak realities. Never a word wasted, this novel is a lean and fast read.

'Paris Trout' is a story from
...more
Fabian
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
What does the name evoke? (It is definitely not at all whatever your mind conjours forth.) Glamour; no less luxury--the poshest of all European capitals--Paris of France that is. And a trout is a despicably delicious foodstuff, but slimy member of the undertow no less. It's positively an oxymoron! Like tasteful trash. Artistic porn.

But as a novel, boy does it deliver the goods. "Paris Trout" is one of those train, beach, bus reads... oh, for days!!

The two most memorable, iconic, horrorshow event
...more
Lawyer
Paris Trout: Slipping Into Darkness

Paris Trout by Pete Dexter was chosen as a group read by members of On the Southern Literary Trail for February, 2018. This novel received the National Book Award for 1988.


“Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

Monsters are variations from the accepted normal
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
So much better than Paris Hilton.

But not quite as good as Paris France - it would be an unfair comparison.

As for Paris Texas, yeah, better than the film, which I thought had a nice soundtrack but was a leetle bit on the wanky side, as many European-auteurs-in-America turn out to be.

I could also say - not as thrillingly weird as Trout Mask Replica.

But loads better than a trout.

Comparisons are invidious, but I thought these were pretty vidious.

Laura
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should become a classic (hubby just now told me it was already a classic). I'm obviously way behind on this book. To say the least, I loved this book even if I have been living under a rock. Paris Trout may be one of the most hated characters in my reading experience.

Rereading for Southern Literary Trail February 2018. You know it was good when you are willing to reread 2 months later.
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
He is a horrible, horrible man that shoots an unarmed woman and a little girl multiple times. But because he feels outraged at a debt unpaid and because these are just colored folk - family members to the man who Paris Trout is angry with - he feels no remorse. It is 1949 in small town Georgia, and Paris fully expects to get away with murder.

When he is stunned to learn that he will be tried in court, it begins to dawn on him that the old days are gone. He is furious and now without freedom to su
...more
Diane Barnes
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was like watching a train wreck. You know there will be body parts and gore all over the tracks, but you can't look away. It's probably one of the most disturbing novels I've ever read, but I had to get to the end. Three stars for the writing, suspense and southern setting and dialogue, which the author got right, but no higher because of my intense dislike and fear of the main character. Being inside the mind of a psychopath is a scary place to be.
Sara
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well, this book turned out to be nothing like I had expected from the Goodreads blurb. Race plays a part in Paris Trout’s crime only in the sense that the society was cruel to its black population, which made it easier to assault a black person and walk away, but Paris Trout was much more than a racist, he was a monster and a threat to humanity in any form. I did not think that the color of skin was the determining factor for Paris. I’m not even sure it was a factor, except in freeing him from a ...more
Jennifer
Sep 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Pete Dexter does such a good job of describing Paris Trout and his yellow teeth, piss smell and even more disgusting behavior that I just wanted to be done with the book because Paris Trout repelled me. I still don't want to touch the book, which is why I have to give it three stars. Basically, he's such a good storyteller, that I have to dock a star because the story is so disturbing. Makes no sense, I know.
Dexter knows how to write to keep you from putting the book down even when you don't wan
...more
John
In Pete Dexter's award-winning tour de force set in the fictional Cotton Point, Georgia, Paris Trout, an unapologetic racist, commits a violent act at the novel's beginning. The remainder of the novel presents how this single act impacts the town and Trout himself.

The novel is divided in nine sections changing character's perspectives in each one. The primary characters in this novel are developed well, portraying each one's strengths and weaknesses. The setting was described so well that you co
...more
Dan
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”You’ve been saved,” Miss Mary said. “And I am here with you now to wait for Jesus.”
“I’m so cold,” the child said.
She said, “Jesus will be here soon, to cover you with a blanket.”


Paris Trout by Pete Dexter won the National Book Award in 1988. Upon reading I can say it is worthy of the accolades.

This is a very well written and engrossing novel about an influential and white businessman who goes to trial for murdering an African-American teenage girl in a Georgia town in the 1950’s. One stylistic
...more
Steve
Aug 07, 2008 rated it liked it
In so many cases of Good vs. Evil, Evil is more interesting. Authors often like the challenge, it seems, of opening our eyes to the reasons Evil does what it does. We may come away with an understanding that fits our theories of human nature. Evil's thought processes, when explained, may ring true, and bad behavior may be driven by unfortunate circumstances as much as anything else. Depending on the degree of the depravity, we may even apply the familiar "There but for the grace of God" line. We ...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camie
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmm, this National Book Award winner written in 1988 and the movie made from it (starring Dennis Hopper) seem to be mostly forgotten and I understand why!! It's a character study filled with highly unlikeable and uninteresting folks, namely Paris Trout who manages to commit the racially charged murder of a child without ever letting the reader in on why... beyond the fact that he's just plain unraveling into craziness.
This happens early on and whatever happens from there, including the fact that
...more
Ruthiella
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took two tries to read this book. The opening chapter portends nothing good. I read gingerly, afraid of what was to come. Once the first chapter was over, I found it easier to go on. Like I had the worst behind me and yet the story is unpredictable.

The back blurb leads one to expect some sort of John Grisham trial drama set in the Jim Crow era, but that is not what this book is at all, yet I am hard pressed to say what it IS about.

Paris Trout is a very well written character study of a dist
...more
Zuberino
The insistent thought comes to me: Paris Trout is America, lawless and fucked up.

Paris Trout the novel, though, can serve as a prototype of Southern Gothic fiction. A brutal crime takes place in a dusty town of the Jim Crow South, and the writer proceeds to unravel its aftermath through the divergent perspectives of multiple characters, at the same time exploring the values and attitudes that gave rise to a society as twisted and perverted as Dixie. No need to put it in the past tense either - a
...more
Jeremy
Sep 19, 2007 rated it liked it
I like Pete Dexter. I do. But I don't think he'd like me. I don't know if likes people in general, and, given that he was once near-fatally pummeled by a bat-wielding mob of them, why should he?

This is a well-written account of people treating each other abominably. Is it cruelty for cruelty's sake, or is there something more substantial to take away from it? Let me know if you find anything. Dexter's prose especially takes flight during the sequences when the title character is sexually humili
...more
Peter
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Not a predictable novel and I like that. Not a novel of neat and precise outcomes, and I like that too. Not a novel where you can be sure of anything, except that Paris Trout – surly smalltown Georgia storekeeper and money-lender with “a screaming look in his eyes” – is not going to be a man to cross. “’You just ask...’ Mr Trout yelled. ‘You ask what happens if you don’t pay Mr Trout.’”

We find out what happens soon enough. “’Paris Trout gone took a damn gun and shot two coloured women.’”And in t
...more
Dustincecil
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Def. buying this.

If you're seeking a focal point for a healthy release of fear, rage, and hatred- I recommend picking this up, because Paris trout is an easy (justified) target for these and many more emotions.
Betsy Brainerd
Seems like I should give more than three stars to a winner of the National Book Award. And I can understand why it won - the plot and pacing are excellent, characters different and interesting,feels like a real glimpse into life in a small, southern town in the first half of the 20th century... Paris Trout, a respected community member shoots a young black girl for no reason. His lawyer has a difficult time convincing him he has done anything wrong and the reaction of much of the town reinforces ...more
John Irby
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone over 15
Recommended to John by: it won the National Book Award, recommendation enough.
accept for a moment that you are a racist in the same sense that a potato or a carrot or a radish grows below ground and out of sight. i view myself that way, and i've thought a lot about it for many years.

it's unlikely i was born that way, like say being born right-handed or with white eyebrows. it's much more likely i was influenced by one or more of my parents, in my case my angry at the world step-father, some of my friends and classmates, or perhaps my drunken Uncle Chuck.

how it got insid
...more
Ned Hayes
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit
Paris Trout is such an amazingly well-written study of the human heart, it's almost difficult to remember that this is pure fiction. The characters of Harry, Hannah Trout and Paris are sketched with extraordinary grace and restraint.

That said, the novel is a story of horrific events and terrible deeds in the deep South. It is not a story for the faint-hearted or for those who love in a saccharine world of good intentions and happy relationships.

A book that taught me more about writing than any
...more
Lillibet Moore
Jun 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I started this book reading the back and thinking it would be more about race relations, and racial identity in the south in the 50s. Unfortunately the black side of the story, the victims of the murder, disappeared in all but thought after the first chapter, and was replaced with a white only perspective, overly draped with cheap sex scenes and efforts at writing something profound. The more I read it, the more I was disappointed, hoping for something profound, anything, but left with very litt ...more
Lark Benobi
Amazing, visceral movement toward inevitable violence and an unexpected sacrifice. Beautifully told story that held me in something of a choke hold until the end.
Melanie
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I could not put this book down. Definitely noir, and some parts are not for the faint of heart. I think I will add Dexter to my must-read list.
Candice Holt
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Paris Trout centers around a character of the same name. Though he is clearly a psychopath, he has money and is a business man, so his violent nature is ignored by the citizens of his small town, Cotton Point, Georgia. The book opens with an attack by Trout on a local black family. The town's white population does not want to be seen siding with a black family against a white man, so, from then on they turn a blind eye towards Trout and allow him to bully the legal system. Also involved in this ...more
James  Love
I became aware of this novel in the early to mid 1990's when the movie starring Dennis Hopper (Paris Trout) Ed Harris (Harry Seagraves) and Barbara Hershey (Hanna Trout) was released on DVD.

https://youtu.be/fs5C6HFk4VQ

https://youtu.be/_FBbgH_BWzM

This is a well written but disturbing tale of the murder of a 12 year old black girl. The main character has no remorse for his actions. He feels that he was justified in arriving at another person's home armed with a .45 and shooting two black females i
...more
Richard Gilbert
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Pete Dexter has created a chilling portrait of a sociopath in Paris Trout, and a warm portrait of his small town and its social strata. I lost myself in this world for two days.

I have known a man or two I felt was close to Trout's depravity, or capable of it, so he seemed believable to me. The tragedy of such a monster is how much he can get away with and for how long, because most people are good and desire harmony, and Dexter is brilliant on this aspect of the story.

I'd love to play with his
...more
wally
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: dexter
heh heh! this is one of those stories that i have discovered...or...what? i read this however many years ago and i just now remembered that...as i purchased another dexter story, spooner, from borders.


saw the "paris trout" there in that copy so here i am adding it to the list of books of mine. sue me.

i only glanced at the description....black/white....etc.

maybe it reminds me of Too Late the Phalatrope? that how you spell it? alan patton? or....waiting for the barbarians? that sort of thing. the
...more
Hannah
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a tough book to get through because there was not a lot to like about any of the characters. I was so angry and frustrated with the backward thinking, bullheadedness of almost everyone involved. That being said it was an interesting read. The characters were well described, although their motivations were difficult to assess, and I feel like I was there as a silent witness to all of it.
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Pete Dexter is the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Paris Trout and five other novels: God's Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, The Paperboy, and Train. He has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee, and has contributed to many magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. His screenplays include Rush and Mulholland Falls. Dexter was ...more
“He scart me," the girl said.

Miss Mary nodded and looked over at her in a slow, tired way. "That's your common sense talkin'," she said. "That man scare anybody got common sense.”
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