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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm not ashamed. I did what was right.",
This review is from: Paris Trout (Contemporary American Fiction) (Paperback)The National Book Award Winner from 1988, _Paris Trout_, based on a real murder and subsequent trial in Milledgeville, Georgia, is a tale of racism, abuse, bribery, injustice, and most of all, arrogance. Paris Trout, a white shopkeeper in Cotton Point, Georgia, makes his own rules, paying little attention to other laws as he sells used cars (on which the rust is hidden under new paint), terrorizes the black community into repaying loans with high interest, and uses trickery to avoid claims on the insurance policies he sells.
When the older brother of 14-year-old Rosie Sayers refuses to pay for a damaged car that Trout has sold and insured but will not fix, Trout and an accomplice decide to use him as an object lesson. Going to Henry Ray's home, Trout shoots little sister Rosie to death and leaves Mary McNutt wounded with four bullets. Surprisingly to Trout, he is put on trial, where people are bribed and the outcome is uncertain, despite eyewitnesses. The crime and trial take up the first half of the book, while the effects of the trial on Trout's defense attorney, Harry Seagraves, the increasing madness of Trout, and the town's growing impatience with Trout's behavior occupy the second half.
Dexter manages to give new life to a story of bigotry which has been told many times, creating in Rosie a particularly vulnerable and sad child, and in Harry Seagraves a lawyer who faces a crossroads--as a lawyer, husband, and man. Paris Trout, however, remains a bigoted stereotype, which reduces important aspects of the plot to "good guys" vs. "bad guys." Dexter's earthy tone creates an atmosphere that vibrates with emotion, however, and his brilliant selection of revealing details create innumerable symbols that develop the themes, poison being the most obvious symbol--Rosie's poisoning by a rabid fox, Hanna Trout's poisoning by physical and sexual abuse, and the town's poisoning by Trout's attitudes.
Dramatic, bloody, and horrifying, this novel shines a spotlight on a town which resembles a large snake that has been run over and is now "stuck to the highway with her own gum." As the town begins to free itself from Paris Trout, his power, and the attitudes he represents, the reader knows that Trout, too, is only a symbol, that real change will take generations. Mary Whipple
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dexter's Monster,
Dexter tells the story of what happens next through several characters - including Hanna, the wife of Paris Trout, his attorney Seagraves, Hanna's attorney Carl Bonner and Trout himself.
Everything in this book thrums with authenticity. In Paris Trout Dexter has created a monster, but the real success of his book is in the other characters - decent people who are also fallible and adrift in the wake of the casual cruelty and bigotry of the American South. This was made into a film, but the result can be no substitute for the book, which is totally compelling.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK IN YEARS,
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He rules his small pathetic business kingdom with total disregard of fairness and decency. He preys on the desperation of the poor blacks and lives a comfortable, outwardly respectable life on the proceeds.One day he and his paid henchman go too far and shoot in cold blood a young black girl , Rosie and her respected guardian ,Mary McNutt. All because of a dispute with Mary's son over a car sale.
In spite of local politics and influence, Trout is brought to trial. The attitudes of the court prosecution, the accused and his lawyer Seagraves is astonishing and I had to keep reminding myself that this was in the 1950s and not the nineteenth century. This tale depicts the transition from the old ways when negroes lives had little value to many Southern whites and their legal rights even less to the equality fought for in the 1960s.
The court case is pure southern drama with the outward display of Southern manners masking the cut and thrust of the antagonists. To reveal the outcome and aftermath would be wrong. Suffice to say that page after page , to the conclusion , held my interest and I literally could not put it down .
I can not understand why Dexter is not better known in the UK as his writing is gripping, informative and very enjoyable reading.
and her respected guardian in their own home. All because of a dispute withover a car sale with
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good begining- not so good end,
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good beginning- not so good end,
This review is from: Paris Trout (Hardcover)This could have become a classic if the story continues as it starts. A story of a black girl killed by the white moneylender who one of the members of the family she is living with is in debt to. Unfortunately the narrative leaves the impoverished black community after the murder and concentrates on the perpetrator and his wife, Hannah's, lives as the crime is being investigated. The character of Hannah is easy to sympathise with especially compared to her brute of a husband. The sub-plot of a romance and the questionable ending is where the book fails. There is a perceived downhill slide in interest as the book goes on but it is engrossing enough and useful as a commentary to life in the mid-twentieth century in the American South.
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Paris Trout (Contemporary American Fiction) by Pete Dexter (Paperback - 1 Oct 1989)
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