PARIS TROUT by Pete Dexter


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A gothic tale of murder, injustice, and mayhem in a small Georgia town at the end of WW II, by the hypnotically gifted author of God's Pocket (1983) and Deadwood (1986). Paris Trout--a disheveled, miserly, eccentric, and amoral but nonetheless locally respectable hardware-store owner and loan shark--is the murderer; his victim is a 14-year-old black girl named Rosie Sayers, whom he kills in a shooting spree brought on by a black boy's failure to repay a loan. Much against the will of the comfortable Southern town, Trout's trial is a fair one, and he's sentenced to prison; but Trout is smart, wily, and resolute with a mad determination not to pay for something he doesn't consider to have been a crime--with the result that he bribes and blackmails his way out of jail, returning to the town as a living irritant to its inhabitants' consciences. But Trout grows madder: and, finally, urine-stained and utterly deluded. With a conviction that his estranged wife--a wonderful, stoical character by the name of Hannah Trout--is poisoning him, Trout holes up in the county courthouse during the town's sesquicentennial celebration and, having shot his stroke-ridden mother in the head (""I end my connections with everything that come before""), opens fire on the rest of his enemies: his lawyer, Harry Seagraves; his wife's divorce lawyer (""the youngest Eagle Scout in the history of the state""), and other local noteworthies and respectables. Once again, Dexter shows a mesmerizing mastery of character development, pace and tone; Cotton Point, Ga., lives and breathes, and Paris Trout menaces us and he menaces it. The larger message--that racism is a form of madness that overspills its boundaries--is murky; but this is nonetheless a fascinating read.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1988
ISBN: 0140122060
Publisher: Random House