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Paper Trails: True Stories of Confusion, Mindless Violence, and Forbidden Desires, a Surprising Number of Which Are Not About Marriage Hardcover – February 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
[Dexter’s pieces] read like finely honed short stories....Their spare, haunting scenes echo Hemingway, their insights Faulkner. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
PAPER TRAILS is what great newspaper writing is all about. (Washington Post Book World)
“Pete Dexter is a master story teller in all forms... This is the work of a great American writer.” (Michael Connelly)
“A jewel box of muscular writing…” (Denver Post)
Superb...Remarkable...The simple clarity of [Dexter’s] prose is like an Edward Hopper painting. (New York Sun)
With authority and a strange grace, Dexter has crafted a powerful true portrait of the underbelly of the American Dream. (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Lovers of fine writing ought to give a serious consideration to Pete Dexter’s new book.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
“Paper Trails is a master class in tight, effective writing.” (St. Petersburg Times)
“The author’s true eye for detail makes for easy reading.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Laugh-out-loud stories…Ideal for... writers and any book lover who appreciates a good story.” (Library Journal)
“Compact and illuminating…” (Sunday Oregonian)
“Paper Trails will stir nostalgia for those who remember a time when newspapers prided themselves on cutting loose, colorful writers…” (Columbus Dispatch)
“A book full of good reading…” (Rocky Mountain News)
Top Customer Reviews
In the great tradition of writers like Jimmy Breslin, Mr Dexter writes with a keen eye, sardonic wit, and a gift for detail and opinion in rough-edged, highly-descriptive, and presumptive prose. The stories keep coming, letting the reader sometimes read between the lines and fill in missing details: here's how he describes how he rushed from Florida to Philadelphia in mid-winter to accept a much-needed new job: "I arrived three days later with one pair of boots, no coat, running as close to empty as I've ever been", a whale of a winter image in 21 words. You fill in the rest; unshaven, dirty laundry in the back seat? The book is loaded with these.
The specific stories are varied: a salute to a TV newsman murdered on his knees in a foreign country (no, not that newsman and not that country!), the escapades of two friends nicknamed Low Gear and Minus (no kidding!), a mother cat in a dangerous world, a beer throwing contest (seriously!), police stories, courtroom stories, stereotypical views on race but with an underlying fairness and fondness for all men, a paper bag that should have been left alone, murders that could and should have been avoided, an old boxer one should stay away from, and the Brian Spencer-involved murder case that he peels back like an onion. The stories run from the truly interesting to the mundane, but things are never boring based on the grittiness and uniqueness of Mr Dexter's vignettes of life. It may take a couple of stories to get your bearings, but by then he's pulled you into his world. Definitely Recommended!! Four INCISIVE Stars!
(Note: this review is based on an eBook digital download in secure eReader format.)
The book is a collection of eighty-two of his well-received journalistic efforts. The essays are from newspapers and magazines that are astute enough to realize there are many readers who are tired of droning news items and who welcome some clever, diverse observations and musings. Dexter has handled that craving for decades.
Most of the entries are short. There are some towards the end of the book that tend to be wordy. I’m not sure where they came from. But, for the most part, the entries are concise and easily ingested. Most of them also contain irreverent remarks and humor that skewer conventional thinking, politics, bigwigs, and even Mrs. Dexter, his often put-upon and remarkably understanding wife. I love Mrs. Dexter.
Dexter calls the book “true stories of confusion, mindless violence, and forbidden desires, a surprising number of which are not about marriage.” There are so many of these true stories here that I hesitate to pick out my favorites. So I’ll just mention a few. There’s one where Mrs. Dexter catches Pete making love to his pillow. And another where Pete stuffs a raw egg down Mrs. Dexter’s pants to demonstrate a chicken’s egg factory process to a grandchild. There are several about inscrutable cats, insufferable editors, the never-ending search for girls, southern low-lifes, drinking adult refreshment, and juvenile pranks, most of which he instigated.
He gets a little more serious as he discusses inane lawyers, civil rights, down-on-their luck folks, and mindless violence, but his views on all these popular subjects mesh very well with mine. In fact, his entire outlook and life’s activities seem to square with my very proper mindset.
I recommend Pete Dexter’s work to every reader with a somewhat warped outlook on life. His books are also great diversions and entertaining reads. There’s no reason to be all wound tight and unfailingly opinionated. Loosen up with Dexter.
Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES