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Paris Trout
by Pete Dexter

To:                ALL                   Date:    10/03
From:   WSRF10B    SHERRY KELLER         Time:     6:36 PM

PARIS TROUT by Pete Dexter                                  
Reading this book is like taking a swim in dark murky water.
You can't quite see what you're in, but you can sure imagine
monsters and things that might want to take a bite out of   
you.  Dexter did just enough foreshadowing to make the      
happenings seem ominous, but not too much to take away a    
sense of suspense.  I can't help but think that maybe PD's  
idea for this book came out of his imagining what it would  
be like if a bona fide nutcase, like the kind of people who 
take Uzis into post offices, was a powerful moneyed citizen.
   Where does a society's responsibility lie? At what point 
does protecting the town's richest most powerful man become 
suicide?  Is there a point where protecting the weakest in  
our society is in the society's self-interest?  Why does the
town let Paris get away with so much? Is it a function of   
place, of time? Could this tragedy have happened in         
Massachusetts, say?   It seems to me that this is a         
modern-day Greek tragedy, with all that deadly hubris, greed
(what all else was there in Greek tragedy?), odd            
relationships with mothers, power-hunger, and plain old     
I'm starting discussion sooner than I said, but this is a   
short book, and I was anxious to get some feedback. Sherry  

===============   Reply    1 of Note   14 =================

To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/03 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 7:58 PM Novelist Pete Dexter Discusses his Life and work, All Things Considered (NPR). 21 Jan 1995. JACKI LYDEN, Host: Pete Dexter is a novelist known for writing. with an economy of words. dark. moving tales about people who live in small towns. often in the South, who've incredible capacities for good and evil. One of his earlier novels. paris Trout, won the National Book Award. His new novel, The Paper Boy, draws on his own experience as a newspaper man. In The Paper Boy, two reporters one. a cautious soul; one, fast and loose with the facts pursue the story of a wrongly convicted man eventually obtaining both his release and a Pulitzer Prize. Dexter. who is 51, worked on newspapers .for over 20 years and writes a weekly syndicated column from his home on an island outside Seattle. He described what made him decide to be a newspaper man: PETE DEXTER. Novelist: What actually happened was I found out what work was about. You know. I was working construction in Florida back in 1968 and once I saw what that really meant, you know, what a shovel did. I was walking home- I walked past the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and looked in there and there were- it was air conditioned- it was about 95 outside and real humid, and indoors it was air conditioned. And that was the year that all the secretaries were wearing white boots. And boy, I wanted in that office so bad. And I went in and filled out an application and in those days you could get hired. I mean wanting to be around white boots was enough of a reason to be a reporter. JACKI LYDEN: And if you spelled things right on the application, huh? PETE DEXTER: God. I couldn't spell; I still can't. But it was- and I sort of stumbled into it that way. And it was the only job I ever had up until that point where I felt like I had anything to do with what I was doing, if that makes any sense. JACKI LYDEN: Yeah, I think it does. It means- because I think that's what happens with the characters in the book. There are two brothers here Ward and Jack James. Ward is the reporter. but Jack's the narrator. And they grapple a lot with what it means to be telling other people's tales and. how you report that without interpreting it. There's another reporter here who is everything the reporter Ward would not want to be- a guy who's kind of fast and loose..a sort of tom wolff-style journalist, I suppose you could say. Pete DEXTER: Well, except, you know. I think Tom Wolff was- is honest and that what he's giving you isn't disguised as something else. people that i've known in the newspaper business who- who will always put aside the substance. it comes to a choice between that and style, style always wins. And the guy in the book is closer to other to be continued...gail..hp JACKI LYDEN: You've got a line here that I think encapsulates this perfectly. one interested in how newspaper reporters find their stories =============== Reply 2 of Note 14 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 10/03 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 10:53 PM JACKI LYDEN: You've got a line here that I think encapsulates this perfectly. You say. 'No one interested in how newspaper reporters find their stories should imagine that the compass needle is reset each time out. What they find attractive doesn't change; only where they find it.' And you know, for you, it's not in boardrooms and it's not in corporate offices. It seems like it's in the back roads and swampy places. PETE DEXTER: Yeah. I mean, that's part of where I go. But it- I mean. especially, as a novelist particularly, and actually as a re- I was never really much of a reporter. I'11 tell you about my history as an investigative reporter. I walked into the Philadelphia Daily News one day, before they made me a columnist, and a fella who I did not get along with which is to say anybody in management there told me that they had discovered a- a Nazi war criminal living in Kensington. which is a- you know, white collar part of Philly. And they wanted me to go over there and check it. I mean, this was- they gave me the guy's name and said he was a Polish war criminal. And I said, Well. who is this guy? I mean, he's 80 years old. What do we know about it?' And they didn't know anything, except he was supposed to have been a war criminal. And I didn't want to do it. I mean, I have no idea whether this guy is, you know, gonna have a heart attack. I had no idea if he's, you know, ever been in Poland. And I essentially just don't like to bother people- much. But they said. `Go do it. And so I went out to Kensington and knocked on the door and it was open, you know, like in a movie you knocked and it actually came open. And nobody answered. And I stuck my head in there and I said, `Are there any war criminals in here?' I was with a photographer, you know, so that I- I had a witness that I 'd followed this story. And their weren't. and so I went back and I said, 'Nah. he's clean.' And the managing editor called me in and told me, first of all. this guy tried to get me to call Poland. He said. `Have you even called Poland?' I said. You know what time it is in Poland? We don't even have a town in Poland. We don't have a person to call in Poland. We don't know a phone number in Poland.' And he- and he- you know, he walked out of the room. And then they called me in to the managing editor and said, What bothers me about this is that you surrendered on this story.' And right there we figured out that I was not gonna be Bartlett [spl and Steele [sp], who are the prime who are the best investigative reporters. I think, in newspapers in America. JACKI LYDEN: When did you start writing your first novel? How old were you then? PETE DEXTER: I was 38. JACKI LYDEN: And living in Florida? PETE DEXTER: No, I was in Philadelphia. a drug story and gotten hurt- What had happened is I'd- I'd gotten into a mess over be continued. =============== Reply 3 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/04 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:00 PM Sherry: What first interested me about this book and what caused me to nominate it for the slo-mo list was its examination of evil in a modern, southern town. We have previously spent some time thinking about the problems of evil in the context of relatively remote settings -- the south of the 1920's, 19th century Texas and Mexico, etc. It seemed to me that some evil up close and personal might be kind of nice.... Dick in Alaska where we apparently have no evil, at least any worth writing about =============== Reply 4 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/04 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 12:06 PM Dick, The evil is not in all the usual places, either. It gets spread around, so many of the characters have a certain amount of culpability in the eventual outcome. One question I had, not a deep philosophical question, but more of the garden variety "huh?" type question, is this: what in the world did Hannah see in this man? Why did she marry him? And a lot gets left out--left to our imagination. What was the connection Paris had to his mother? Sherry who always seems to have many more questions than answers =============== Reply 5 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/05 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 1:32 AM Sherry: The motivation for Hannah's marriage to Trout is a little obscure. She was middle-aged and lonely; successful as a woman could be in 1957 Georgia (I'm guessing at the year, but based on Bonner's Korean War service it's close) and she wanted something more out of life. The best I can do beyond that is two quotes. The first is from a scene where Hannah is sitting in a drugstore thinking about her relationship with her husband: "She had been careful all her life until she met Paris Trout, and marrying him -- she saw it now -- was reckless and she was punished for that too." A good Presbyterian girl, you can see. And, the second quote is from later in the book when she is meeting with Bonner to discuss a divorce from Trout: "I came into marriage late, Mr. Bonner," she said. "I was forty-four years old and left a career which I had devoted myself to with some success for many years. I did not marry for security, I gave it up. It was a wager I took which I cannot begin to explain, except to say that the reason may lie in the excitement of the wager itself." Well, she sure got some, didn't she? Finally, on Paris' mother, I think she is just the connection with his remote humanity -- the time when he actually could love or be loved as a human being. I was powerfully reminded of Bernard Cornwell's portrayal of Obediah Hakeswell -- an insane sergeant in the British Army who is a character in several of his Richard Sharpe novels. Hakeswell mutters to himself, actually carrying on conversations with his mother, whom he last saw when he was 12 years old as a London street urchin. He was hanged for theft, but survived because he was so little (couldn't break his neck you see) was cut down by an uncle, and fled into the army. He became screamingly insane over the years but clung to the image of his mother (even to the point of stealing an officer's portrait of his wife, and hiding it in his shako to provide a visual image of his mother. Periodically he'd take off the hat and talk to the picture, reassuring it that 'e was a good boy, 'e was -- chilling and effective). Trout, like Hakeswell, spiralled into madness over a period of time, and the twisted relationship with his mother constituted a withered umbilicus to a time when, perhaps, he was still human. Dick in Alaska, off to bed =============== Reply 6 of Note 14 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 10/06 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 10:13 PM JACKI LYDEN: Physically hurt? PETE DEXTER: Yeah, it was like one of the more famous street fights in the history of that town and that town's got a history of street fights. We ended up on the street with like 30 guys with baseballbats and I- yeah. I had some- a lot of brain damage and broke a leg and nerve damage and lost a bunch of teeth and stuff. And one of the things that happened from that was it changed the way things tasted. I mean, for instance I all of a sudden be- I never could eat fish until then. Now, I- to this day. I love it. It also changed the way alcohol tasted to me. It made it taste very bitter and kind of acidy and I mean to the point where I just was- too much trouble to drink and I just didn't enjoy it any more. And suddenly having an extra, you know. 20-30 hours a week with nothing to do, I sat down and started to write the novel. And that's how that happened. JACKI LYDEN: Wow, you may be one of the few authors who's personal life is more interesting than some of the lives in your books. PETE DEXTER: Yeah. I don't mean to say by that, though, that like, you know. I quit drinking and it- it turned me into something good. Because there is a scene, in fact, in The Paper Boy about a guy who's swimming out of the ocean and- and the narrator's actually swimming in the ocean and swims into some jellyfish and is stung and has an allergic reaction and almost dies. JACKI LYDEN: It's an amazing scene. PETE DEXTER: Well that happened to me down in the keys in Florida, maybe 20 years ago. And when it was finally over, the doctor told me that if I hadn't been drinking when that happened- and we'd drunk about two six-packs of beer this- I mean, each. If I hadn't been doing that, he said I'd be dead, because that slowed down the allergic reaction. So, I mean. I'm not saying that everybody should quit drinking, especially if they- you know, want to go swimming in jellyfish.. JACKI: Do you think that you would have been the kind of writer you are if you hadn't lived as hard as you obviously have I mean, it seems like you're using all those- all those long nights? PETE DEXTER: NO- I- well. I haven't used 'em all, believe me tbc =============== Reply 7 of Note 14 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 10/08 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 4:25 PM Dear gail, Thanks for these posts about Dexter. What an interesting person. I am a bit confused though. Did I miss something? I can't quite understand what started the fight where he broke his leg. Did I skip over a post? Sherry =============== Reply 8 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/08 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 5:04 PM Hi, Sherry: I just started PARIS TROUT last night, and I agree it's a dark swim indeed (no pun intended) Also, narrative-wise, does this sucker MOVE, or what? I'm in awe of the consistency of Dexter's bleak, take-no-prisoners style that he's able to maintain seamlessly through changes of time, place, character, etc. Heck of a writer. I'm noticing that women who are drawn to unsavory guys are a recurrent theme for him; remember the woman in THE PAPERBOY who was a death-row "groupie"? Would you say she has anything in common with Hanna Trout, besides her poor choice in men? Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 9 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/08 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 6:50 PM Dick: I really enjoyed your note. It occurs to me to wonder how someone in the legal profession would rate Seagraves' performance, strictly as an attorney, based on the events in PARIS TROUT. Mainly, I'm surprised that the option of withdrawing from the case occurs to Seagraves very fleetingly, and seemingly not at all seriously. Trout seems to me the ultimate nightmare of a client, squared or cubed. As for myself, at least two dozen times in the first half of the novel, I'm wanting to shout to Seagraves that he should (1) wish Paris all the best and (2) immediately get the **** out of Dodge, maybe take a long vacation until everything blows over. Does Seagraves' acquiescence to this *most* bizarre chain of events result from (a) a feeling of professional obligation because he's Trout's attorney of record, or (b) an unwritten code of ethics in a town of this size which says, in effect, that we're all in this boat together and you must dance with the one who brung you? Or some amalgam of the two? Dale, who remembers that when dealing with an impossible corporate client circa 1983, my then-10-year-old son overheard me telling my woes to Mary and remarked, "Dad, sometimes you just gotta cut your losses." (PS: Your quote of Hanna speaking to the divorce lawyer left my head spinning..."My marriage was a wager I cannot even begin to explain..." Who of us, reflecting back on our lives, can't find many, MANY wagers which made sense at the time but which we now cannot even begin to explain? Maybe this is part of our culture's continuing fascination with the whole legal process, in which people's decisions of years, or decades, ago are put under a microscope for the second-guessing of a contemporary and hyper-rational audience?) =============== Reply 10 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/08 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 7:26 PM Sherry, you make me truly curious about this book which you wanted the SLO-MO to read. Can't wait to get started on it. Ernie =============== Reply 11 of Note 14 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 10/08 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 7:32 PM gail & All: Please indulge a random thought, here, seeing as PARIS TROUT has rattled my emotional cage, big-time... It seems to me that the major difference between "popular" fiction, popular movies, melodrama, etc., and the type of "literary" writing that wins a National Book Award (a la Dexter's PARIS TROUT) is that the latter *bothers* us, *disturbs* us, works *against* stereotype and assumptions and expectations, whereas the former shamelessly takes any technical shortcut to reinforce same. For example: in PARIS TROUT, when Hanna Trout is first realizing the magnitude of the crime her husband has committed, she is passing through a black neighborhood and tries to imagine him shooting two women inside one of these houses. Hanna says, matter-of-factly, that she *could picture it easily.* In other words, all the contributing factors have been scattered in the back of her mind these years, but she has denied them, as we all deny aspects of our loved ones and ourselves that we don't want to deal with, but when facing a crisis it all comes to light. Compare this to the standard movie-of-the-week treatment of the same scene: to wit, an innocently hysterical "No! No! NOOOOO! Not my husband! This can't be happening!" It appears that popular art forms are subtly geared toward reinforcing our self-comforting assumptions of black and white, right and wrong, I'm a victim who had no part in this, etc., etc., while literary ones try to tell the truth at whatever cost. Another "literary" treatment of this subject, though very different in style than PARIS TROUT, is the greatly undervalued (IMHO) novel by an Alabama writer named Madison Jones: A CRY OF ABSENCE, published at least 25+ years ago. It's the story of a prominent family in a Southern town who learns that their teenaged son was involved in a racial murder. The title, I think, is taken from a poem by Fugitive poet John Crowe Ransom: "A cry of absence, absence in the heart!" Hopefully Cathie or Jim can set us straight on the source... Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 12 of Note 14 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 10/08 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 9:21 PM JACKI LYDEN: Got a few left? PETE DEXTER: Let me- yeah. I- there's more left than used. But it-i think that you can't learn from things like that. And it has to- I mean, the stories are one thing, but what it does for you, more than that. is give you a little perspective. So you know what it is after- you know what it is to come real close and then not be killed. And you know what it is to be scared and not- you know, and get out of it some way or another. And so you see somebody else who's in an entirely situation, you know- the husband has a heart attack or somebody gets in a car accident and is badly scared and even if that's not being in the street with 30 guys ~with reinforced steel and baseball bats, that's as scary to them as the other thing was to you.. So you can- you know, you can immediately understand what's going on in that person or that character's mind. And yeah- I think that's- I think that's been helpful. JACKI LYDEN: Pete Dexter, author of the new novel The Paper Boy. And for this evening, that's All Things Considered. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 1994 National Public Radio. gail..hp..a passionate reader reporting from hot weather in san francisco..our INDIAN summer... =============== Reply 13 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/09 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:37 AM Dale, When I was reading PT I thought how different this was than your normal everyday potboiler. I guess we are drawn to make these comparisons because there are many elements reminiscent of the genre...a murder, a good (sort of) guy, a bad (very, very bad) guy, an abused wife. But the made-for-TV version would have stopped at the end of the Paris trial. He would have been hauled away in handcuffs cursing made-for-TV curses. Everyone would have felt justified and no one would have had to question their own lives. Aside from being a rip-roarer of a story, sweeping you along, making you ask what in the worlds going to happen next, this book makes you examine more than Paris Trout. It makes you examine the very fact of community. It makes you ask under what conditions can a man like this not only live, but thrive? If a man like this can thrive, make money hand over fist, command so much fear that no one wants to arrest him even for murder, make supposedly upright people consider that the obvious fact of murder might be justified and overlooked, then who is responsible for the outcome? An interesting plot device, and one differing from most books, is to have one of the main characters, Carl Bonner, introduced more than halfway through the book. Did anyone find this surprising? Annoying? Of any significance? Another question I have---what about the fox-biting incidence? The little girl who was murdered seemed to have a sense of clairvoyance or some mystical abilities. Did this serve any purpose other than make her a kind of sacrifice/victim symbol? Do you think that this scenario could have happened only in the South? I have my own opinions, but I'm curious what others have the say. Sherry in cool cloudy Milwaukee =============== Reply 14 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/09 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:42 AM Dear Dale, I just noticed your question about the groupie in THE PAPERBOY. Well, I haven't read that book yet (should I add it to the mountain?) Hannah's attraction to Paris is one that has me stumped. But in a way it doesn't bother me that I don't know exactly why she was attracted. One reason I like this book is that there is obviously a story there before the telling, if you know what I mean. This is, what Sara would call, "a slice". Sherry =============== Reply 15 of Note 14 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 10/09 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:45 AM Dear Ernie, Please join us in reading PARIS TROUT. Richard Haggart was the one who nominated this book, so give him the credit or blame. Sherry =============== Reply 16 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/09 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 9:46 PM Dale: I'm getting so far behind in my reading, writing and posting it's pathetic -- but to quick respond: 1. The sad truth is that having an unsavory client isn't grounds for withdrawal; after all, the system recognizes that the great majority of these folks are criminals and guilty as hell. It follows that they're not very nice. Also, lawyers tend to develop qualms about their clients about the time the trust account runs dry; judges know this and are reluctant to allow cream skimming. 2. I can't recall the story well enough to be positive, but I think Seagrave suspected, but wasn't sure, that Trout had been engaged in misconduct with the jury, etc. Suspicion of wrong-doing will never be grounds for withdrawal. Got to run -- more later, I think, if family and business ever let up. Dick in Alaska, on the run =============== Reply 17 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/09 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:58 PM Hi Sherry, Last night before going to bed I read the first chapter (ROSE) and today I'm into HANNAH. I'm very much saddened but also mesmerized while reading this book. What struck me was Rose's lack of opportunity to "blossom". She never really was loved or cared about until just before her tragic death. The minister at her funeral picked up on this when he asks the Lord for forgiveness for not taking better care of her. And now Hannah... that's a Heart Full, too. More later, Sabrina =============== Reply 18 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/10 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 2:28 AM This is the book that made me cry. I'm hesitant to re-read it, 'cause I detest being manipulated. Usually I'm immune. Especially at movies, because the manipulation is generally so blatant I get too annoyed to tear up - just sit there fuming while the rest of the women in the theater sob, and the men blink fast. But Dexter successfully manipulated me with this book. So, fess up. Any other cry-babies in the house? Theresa =============== Reply 19 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/10 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 9:07 AM greetings THERESA.. i usually am good for a good many tears..but this book didn't elict any..perhaps this topic has been explored too many times before....don't get me wrong this book is a 'MOVER' rolls...and it is a very good discussion piece...i just can't believe my memory is finally working at this late date..and i don't find it terrible original.. enjoying the discussion as usual.... gail..hp..a passionate reader and major lurker =============== Reply 20 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/10 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:57 AM Can't say I cried Theresa. Although I'm more likely to LIKE a book if it gets a real good cry out of me. I know what you mean about the manipulated cry. The kind you get angry at yourself for crying but do anyway. I cry at everything. I cry mostly if something moves me, not necessarily if I'm sad at something. I didn't find this book manipulative. It seemed a pretty straightforward story, not one that tried to twist your feelings one way or the other. Sherry =============== Reply 21 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/10 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:31 AM I thought Dexter's writing in the early part of the book was much more evocative and moving than later, when the story moved out into the white part of the town. I thought he did a very good job of capturing the vulnerability and helplessness of the black community, living right on the edge of white indifference and rage. When those two worlds collided and the little girl was killed I was moved, not to tears, but a kind of sick astonishment. Later, when Trout's madness (the town's madness?) spilled out of the black community and finally struck some white guys (he was just a good old boy with a rough edge on 'em, as long as it was blacks and women gettin' whacked) there was a sense of inevitability. Despite the fact that Seagraves (and men like him) were substantially responsible for allowing Trout's madness to bloom into violence, there was no emotional satisfaction in his death. In that sense, I thought the ending of the book was flawed, or at least unsatisfying -- no resolution of the underlying conflicts that gave rise to the story. Although that was perhaps Dexter's point. Dick in Alaska, =============== Reply 22 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/10 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 11:44 AM Dale, I agree that books like PARIS TROUT work against the expected, conventional fictional treatment of serious subjects. This is not a work of spiritual uplift, anymore than KING LEAR is. I am impressed by the inexorableness (is that a word?) of evil working itself out to the less-than-reassuring end. I can't say conclusion, because there is no neat moral to be drawn here. Evil just is, you don't tie up the consequences in neat packages. One of the disturbing facets of this book is the complicity, if only passive, of the civic and business leaders in Trout's evasion of justice. The feeling you get is primarily one that the business folk think Paris is bad for business, giving the community a blemish; he is simply acting in bad taste. Also central to the reaction of the community, however, is the fact that Paris' victims are black. There would have been a much different reaction if they had been white. I think also there is an element of fear in all the townspeople when they contemplate Paris. He is the dark force that most folk keep chained belowstairs in their deepest well of unconscious. Seagroves is several times terrified by Paris Trout, just in fairly ordinary settings and conversations. Does anyone else think that Paris Trout is Jason Compson with a psychosis? I think that the obsession with business and the feeling of isolation are similar. And the fixation on the mother is reminiscent of Jason's ambivalent and furious attitude towards his mother. If Jason had not been the one sane character in TSATF, he might have turned out much like Paris Trout. regards from the mountain, Felix Miller The two tragedies of life are not getting your heart's desire, and getting your heart's desire. 10/10/96 11:31AM ET =============== Reply 23 of Note 14 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 10/10 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:46 PM Felix: As usual, a pungent and highly cogent comment from the mountain. I was intrigued by the comparison to Jason Compson -- is there a view in southern culture that business makes the soul grow colder? Some vestige of 18th century England, that trade is vulgar? I think I've seen traces of that in the readings, but am not entirely certain. If so, however, that would explain some of similarities of feel between the characters: those in trade have to deal with folks that others can pass by. Why I guess it would make a body crazy, wouldn't it? Dick in Alaska, where he's late for work and the phones are now ringing here at home. sigh. =============== Reply 24 of Note 14 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 10/10 From: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Time: 3:22 PM Felix and all - Sherry commented in her opening note that this was a short book; it really isn't (300 + pp in the Penguin paperback edition), but as several have noted, it rolls along like a runaway train (a metaphor I believe Harry Seagraves used to describe Paris). I read it over a two day period. It was hard to understand why Trout had never before in nearly sixty years lost his grip; you are led to believe that he is being overcome by a mental illness which disintegrates the veneer of acceptable behavior that regulates most people in a community (this after he has in a murderous fit overstepped the bounds of that behavior and impulsively committed an irrational act that he immediately and from then on continually rationalizes in terms of a business decision) - in the car with Sheriff Fixx (what a name) it appears that he is experiencing blackout type losses of control before he reasserts self-restraint ("...he remembered his feelings in the car when he was right on the edge of blowing the chin off Edward Fixx It was different from the way he'd felt shooting the girl. When he'd gone after her, the anger blew into him from the outside."). The fact that he is capable of the type of behavior he inflicts on Hannah when he knows that he needn't restrain himself is the evidence of the mean and evil core nature he had apparently successfully suppressed for many years. The expansion of his paranoia and fear of poisoning could be symptoms of debilitating mental illness (the county asylum is a recurring referent).Perhaps the mental instability is the natural result of the repression of his true nature over so many years and some type of explosion was inevitable. I couldn't get the picture of Dennis Hopper as Trout out of my head the whole time I read this, so I had to rent the movie to achieve a sense of consummation. In case you're not aware, this was a made-for-cable movie (Showtime) back around 1990 and has since been released on videocassette. I saw it back then, but didn't recall most of the details. It stars Hopper, Barbara Hershey and Ed Harris. Pete Dexter also wrote the screenplay. It follows the novel fairly well as might be expected, but some large parts are left out (though really none of the important parts) and characters are integrated or eliminated (Ward Townes is subsumed by Carl Bonner, who becomes the D.A. in the film, Seagraves is a widower). Inexplicably some scenes are changed (Hannah Trout visits the clinic instead of Seagraves to view Rosie's condition, Hannah moves in to the hotel instead of Paris) and the ending is altered in a way that makes it somewhat less satisfactory to me. Of course some things are difficult if not impossible to show in a film: Rosie's sense of the ownership of time ("Rosie Sayers could not tell time, and her sense of it was that it belonged to some people and not to others. All the white people had it, and all the colored peole who had cars."); Seagraves' discovery of the experiential nature of sexual orgasm ("He had been thinking about Mrs. Trout all morning, the way she had held him still and focused on the mechanics of his own release - a feeling that had been going on inside him for thirty, thirty-five years - in a different way.") What makes the movie is Hopper's great performance as Paris Trout - he is definitive in the role, even underplaying Trout's essential madness to just the perfect degree. The supporting cast is adequate to good - Hershey does just fine but I never felt Ed Harris' portrayal of Seagrave to jibe with the book. I would grade the movie a B, Dennis Hopper a solid A. Joe B =============== Reply 25 of Note 14 =================  
To: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Date: 10/10 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 7:27 PM greetings JOSEPH.. this film was in the theatres prior to CABLE.. if i missed something..oops..if not you have it on good authority it was in the theatres.... gail..hp..a passionate reader...some times i am not to be trusted as the mental filecabinet rearranged material.. =============== Reply 26 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/10 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:07 PM Dear Theresa, I was moved to tears by the loss of Rosie's life. This was not typical for me. Few books make me cry. I think it was the issue of her wasted life and how trivial it was to Paris as if she was an object rather than a human being who had suffered enough already. Sabrina =============== Reply 27 of Note 14 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 10/10 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:07 PM Hi Felix, I agree with you about the the significance of FEAR in this story. This is what I felt when Rosie encountered the fox, it plays out in Hanna's interactions with Paris and in Seagroves'. I sense that Hanna found the dark side of Paris intriguing and was drawn to him for his reason. She got more than what she bargained for. I kept being reminded of truly one of my own personal mottos--Stay away from EVIL people, especially devils in disguise. I agree with those that have said that Paris had this dark side that had not been obvious until this time. I think he's psychotic AND evil, two characteristics that do not always exist together. Sabrina =============== Reply 28 of Note 14 =================  
To: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Date: 10/10 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 11:23 PM Joe, Your point about the significance of the ownership of time as a defining characteristic of racial and social class is so central to the relationship between black and white in the book that I wonder that I didn't include this in my post. What a telling comment on the powerlessness of a subjugated class. And how subtle the comment on time also being the property of blacks with cars. You get the whole picture of black-white relations there. Great post. Felix Miller =============== Reply 29 of Note 14 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 10/11 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 9:39 AM Hi To All, This book is continuing to evoke strong emotions in me. Now, I'm experiencing rage over the Paris Trout's of this world--EVIL MURDERERS! I liken him to the AVENGERS in the inner city these days who kill innocent bystanders and say ITS BUSINESS with no respect for human life. I shivered when Paris said he would do again tomorrow. In another point, Dexter is eloquent in his handling of childhood emotions and experience in this black community. The McNutt child's testimony was moving...and real... "tears the the size of marbles rolled down her cheeks". It spoke a lot about culture. For example, just like that family, it has been important for me for my boys to have their own personal Bibles. I didn't know any one else like Dexter noticed this phenomenon. Its just what is done in my world. What about the collective community identity? When Rosie was killed, "we thought we was all going to die," she said." Gail, you mentioned this story being told before, nothing new. What are the other books you are referring to? I NEED to read them for further catharsis Sabrina, being emotionally charged this AM =============== Reply 30 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/11 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:00 PM I just finished PARIS TROUT last night --wow, thank you Dick for suggesting this very powerful book. This book had been recommended to me earlier by a friend, but I put off reading it because of its dark theme. However, I found the story so interesting and the writing so fine that I really enjoyed it. I am interested in hearing your opinions of Harry Seagraves. According to his tombstone, "HE WAS OUR BEST AND OUR KINDEST." In many ways, I think that he basically was a decent man and perhaps that is why his acquiescence in Trout's evil was so disturbing to me. Dale, you asked why Seagraves kept defending Trout. Dick certainly made a valid point that once he had started it was difficult to quit, but I think it is very valid to question why he took the case initially rather than turn it over to a junior partner. There is a chilling scene in this book where he makes a cross over Rosie's name when he hears she is going to die, and quickly changes it into a dollar sign. Seagraves was afraid of offending the town's elite who would unquestionably stand by Trout because he was white and rich. He was bothered by Trout's obvious guilt, but that did not stop him from participating in the bribe of a witness, trying to suppress the pictorial evidence of the crime, telling the sheriff to forget he ever heard initial statements of Buster and Trout, and fabricating a tale of dangerous gun toting black people threatening to kill his client. Or is that just the way the game is played ? Hana advises him to drop Trout as a client and tells him, "You can't separate what you do one place from another." Seagraves replies, "I have to...I'm a lawyer. "(p. 203) Does anyone else find that statement very disturbing? Ann =============== Reply 31 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/11 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:00 PM Sherry, Interesting question about why Hana married Trout. Do you suppose part of it was that she was tired of being an "old maid." Back in the 50's I think that might have been an important consideration. In many ways, I thought that Hana was the moral voice in this book. She repeatedly suggested to Seagraves that if he got Trout off the hook he would be responsible for what followed. Trout was, of course, convicted in spite of Seagraves, but his sentence of only 1 to 3 years for the murder of a child was preposterous and, of course, he never served a day. At the end of the book, Dexter suggests that Hana pitied Trout and even dreamed about trying to help him. In light of his horrible brutality towards her, I found that idea difficult to accept. What did you think? As for the mother, Dick may well be right that she was his last link to humanity, but the thought certainly occurred to me that she also might have been largely responsible for the narrow, money- obsessed person he turned out to be. Although I'm sure the bond was very tight, I don't know that he liked her. The scene where he visits her at the home while she is having a bath is certainly unsettling. Ann =============== Reply 32 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/11 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:02 PM Dick, You found the second part of the book less compelling than the first half. I would have to agree, but I thought it was because it was difficult for Dexter to maintain the dramatic tension. It was obvious almost from the start that Trout would explode again, this time turning his rage against the white citizens of the town. They would pay the price for letting him get by with his crime. However, Dexter put in so many false alarms that in the end it seemed a bit anti- climatic that only 3 people were killed. Trout almost killed Hana, he made lists of all of his enemies, he almost killed the sheriff , he left his car in front of the train, etc. Overall, however, this book was one of my top reads for 1996. Ann =============== Reply 33 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/11 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:03 PM Sabrina, I shared your feelings about Rosie, a child who felt God must have made a mistake because she was too young to die. I thought Mary McNutt was also a wonderful character. I loved it when Seagraves told her at the trial that the jury would decide what happened and she replied, "They don't decide what happened...It's already done. All they decide is if they gone do something about it." Ann =============== Reply 34 of Note 14 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 10/12 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:16 AM Ann: There is another aspect to my differing views about the early part of this novel and the later parts -- there was a sympathy and empathy Dexter had with the characters (poor and black) in the early going that I found terribly compelling. When the novel moves on, the characters seem to become progressively more two-dimensional and shallow. After the first third of the novel I thought I was in the presence of a great writer; by the end, I thought it was just a damned good novel with some very arresting ideas. Was the change that dramatic, or was it just me? Whatever the reason, the characters and events that coulld make a reader weep lived -- and died -- in the first 82 pages. Did Dexter change his pace intentionally, or was it a creative failure of a kind? Dick in Alaska, just full of these questions =============== Reply 35 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/12 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 0:32 AM Hi Dick and Ann, How do you interpret the sexual themes in the middle of the novel? I'm referring to the encounters between Seagraves and Hanna and Bonner and his wife. Are these men being characterized as being repressed as compared to Trout's lack of of control over his sexual and aggressive impulses? Why are the women taking control? Sabrina, wondering what your thoughts are about this =============== Reply 36 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/12 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:51 AM Sabrina: Frankly, I didn't think the sexual aspects of the novel were all that successful or interesting. I guess Dexter was using the failed personal lives of Seagraves and Bonner to point up the hollowness of the white southern community (oh so proper on the outside, oh so evil and empty on the inside). So what about Hanna? For a woman who was some variety of old maid until she was forty, and then spent her bridal years being raped and sodomized by a smelly old psychopath, she has a pretty health sex drive doesn't she? Exactly what she and Seagrave offer the story isn't all that clear to me -- the possibility of redemption, perhaps? Or maybe Dexter was sending a signal to his significant other about the twists and turns he'd like to see in THEIR personal life. You never know about these writers -- they lead such rich inner lives! Dick in Alaska where it's snowing to the beat the band, but things will be fine in just six short months =============== Reply 37 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/12 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 9:44 PM Hi Dick, I thought there was some significance to the sexual encounters that I was not grasping. I like your ideas, especially the view that Dexter may have been giving hints to his wife. That's funny! Along with the shallowness of Bonner and Seagroves it seems that he was alluding to some lurid craziness in Hanna. That may be how she hooked up with Paris in the first place and got more than she bargained for. Just a thought. Initially, until those scenes, I thought of Hanna as being the conscience in the story, taking Rosie to the doctor, going to her funeral. I think he presented her as being an emotionally complicated person. I find her interesting. I understand why he put her in the story. I have a bit more to go before I finish the novel. I hope to chat with you more about PARIS TROUT later. Thanks for responding. Sabrina =============== Reply 38 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/13 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:15 AM Sabrina: The more we discuss Hanna, the more interesting she becomes, as a character. As Trout's wife, Hanna has meaning in the story; she is vulnerable, and marries him for reasons that are never made entirely clear, but have to do with her need for something other than mere normalcy in her life. Perhaps, she needs love -- her interest in Rosie is the interest both of a decent human being and of a childless woman who wishes her life had turned out differently. She is incomplete, at least in the context of the time and place (and at the same time is very modern: a career woman, with money, goals and a good deal more on the ball than any man in the story), and seems to be seeking something else. Curious that her interest focused on the two men in the story who are most likely to be termed 'evil' -- Trout and Seagrave. She seems to be a woman who places herself with dangerous men, for reasons that are never made clear, and indeed, perhaps cannot be clear. Her detachment during sex with Seagraves was unnerving; speaking only for myself, I couldn't do well under such sterile and clinical conditions, yet Seagraves, just another middle-aged guy, seemed to manage nicely. Perhaps I'm jealous. In the meantime, do you suppose Mrs. Dexter wondered who Hanna was? If I had written that book, MY wife would want to know. Dick in Alaska, where it is still snowing, but big deal =============== Reply 39 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/13 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 10:09 PM Sabrina and Dick, Interesting discussion you have going regarding the sexual parts of this book. Dick, you suggested that Hana's choice of men suggested she was attracted to danger. I guess I didn't see Seagraves as dangerous per se (mostly he impressed me as weak), but I did think that it was extremely risky of her to be having an affair with the lawyer of her abusive husband. I kept expecting Paris to surprise them with a gun, which definitely added to the underlying tensions of this story. Did you two notice how many times Hana was crying during the love scenes with Seagraves? She didn't seem to love Seagraves -- he was more a case of "whatever gets you through the night." In a small town, I'm sure there weren't many candidates. I found the description of Trout's sexual abuse of Hana very upsetting, as was Seagraves confession that hearing about it aroused him. What did you think of Carl Bonner? I got the definite idea that Dexter didn't much like boy scouts. Ann =============== Reply 40 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/14 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 1:38 AM Dick & All: I'm back home and have finished PARIS TROUT. I found it to be one of the most wrenching, disturbing, darkly humorous, haunting, and tear-inducing novels I've read in a long time. (Yep, I cried, big-time.) For my money, Dexter's mastery of contemporary regional dialect is up there with McCarthy, Higgins, James Lee Burke, etc. PT is definitely my most-admired fiction of this year. The National Book Award panel chose well, I think. As to Sherry's question of whether this is a "Southern" novel, I believe the same story could take place anywhere in the world--though the figures of speech wouldn't be as good. In other words, I think the central focus of Dexter's book is not so much racism (which is everywhere, in all its guises), but the way racism manifests itself among "good" people: i.e., where do we draw the line between *individual* and *collective* responsibility for what happens in a community? That said, I think PARIS TROUT could happen anywhere, but only in a town of a certain size (as could SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, WINESBURG OHIO, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, ad infinitum) because that particular societal structure is where the gray area between "individual" and "collective" becomes so wide and so gray. That size of town is anywhere, and everywhere. I've preached to workshop audiences, for years, that the stereotype of small towns being narrow-minded and intolerant, versus big cities being diverse and accepting of strangers, is absurd: clearly, the opposite is true. Anybody who grew up in a small town knows any number of respected local citizens (albeit with severe mental problems) who would be forever institutionalized if they visited the city 25 miles away. In a BIG city, "they" and "somebody" should do something about the outrageous behavior of such-and-such. But in a SMALL city, "they" and "somebody" are yourself and your neighbor, and there's hell to pay. It also seems to me that PARIS TROUT keeps honing in on the huge contradiction between *reality* and *ideals*--the way we behave, versus the abstract standards we aspire to. He makes this split outrageously clear in many scenes, not least of which is the nightmarish Centennial costumed trip via train, during which the pillars of the community dress as historic figures while getting very drunk and acting very irresponsible and silly. That theme keeps going through until the end, when young Bonner decides to sprint upstairs, unarmed, to face a heavily-armed psychotic, with the express purpose of protecting the psychotic's mother; but with everyone already hearing gunshots, it's a foregone conclusion the mother's probably already dead. Yet while Seagraves is trying in vain to grab Bonner, a female mainsay of the town says proudly, "He was always the bravest of the brave!" Well, yes, but in this case I'd say that the bravery was outweighed by stupidity. Was it ever thus? Comments welcomed. All in all, a disturbing and though-provoking book. And I heartily recommend Dexter's subsequent novel THE PAPERBOY. He doesn't make it easy to read his stuff, but the trip is worth it. Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 41 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/14 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 1:45 AM Hi Sabrina. I think what moved me most about Rosie's death was that her life had really just begun, in a sense, when she found someone who cared for and about her. I still think Dexter was manipulating the reader, but it worked on me. Theresa =============== Reply 42 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/14 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 1:56 AM I thought Hanna and Seagraves demonstrated aspects of general societal acquiesence to people like Paris Trout. After all, what was the real basis of Trout's power? Why was the town so accepting of his behaviour? What did he really add that was beneficial to the community? Even if the white community was complacent in accepting the power dynamic between themselves & the black community, if anything Trout messed with the status quo. I think that is why Dexter showed Hanna as an independent woman - she didn't marry Trout because she had to. She had other options. She went willingly. Has anyone read Hannah Arendt? She addresses this issue, but I can't remember a specific right now. TATS =============== Reply 43 of Note 14 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 10/14 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:48 AM Ann: I didn't feel Seagraves was especially weak or evil (at least not actively) so much as he was the ultimate pragmatist. He spreads his anti-boat-rocking philosophy throughout, telling Bonner at one point "You got to learn not to push something that won't move." And the case could be made that if he'd taken Seagraves' advice the story would have ended differently, with Trout safely exiled to the federal pen. Maybe not. On the other hand, I think there's often a fine line between pragmatism and evil. Hannah Arendt's writing on the subject, as Theresa points out, shows that evildoers at such a level as the Nazi war criminals generally did their work against a pragmatic, business-as-usual background, rather than being the snarling monsters we've come to expect in the movies. Just another busy day at Dachau. Despite all Seagraves' shortcomings, he really grew on me thoughout the book. He would have been an ideal choice for a companion to go fishing or have a drink with, I'd think: funny, smart, self-deprecating. In some ways he disproved Hanna's contention that "you can't separate who you are from what you do." I started off liking Carl Bonner, too, but his tight-a** ways quickly came to grate on me. No, I don't think Pete Dexter made Eagle Scout. (I loved Bonner's wife, though.) On the subject of Hanna's sexual abuse and Seagraves' embarrassed confession that it aroused him, I agree it's disturbing but I don't think it's that unusual, or necessarily a gender thing. I've read articles and essays by women who were very discomfited to find themselves sexually aroused by spectacles of violence--a boxing match, or a bullfight--which their conscious mind found revolting. I don't know what it means, except that our primal, internal "levers" of desire, pain, fear, etc., are much more closely connected than we can understand, or would like to believe. Dale in primal Ala. =============== Reply 44 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/14 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 6:50 PM Dear Dale, You've answered just about all the questions that I remember asking. And I tend to agree with you on all points (aren't we civilized). I was trying to put into words that particularly human phenomenon that Ann, I think, was disturbed by--Seagraves' admission that he found the tales Hanna told him about her sexual abuse darkly erotic. I agree that there is a real dichotomy in what people allow into their fantasy life and what they have a comfort level with in their physical life. I think it is one of life's many paradoxes, and a big reason we tell stories--to acknowledge that part of ourselves which is attracted to violence, yet keep it in check. It was extremely risky on Seagraves' part to admit to Hanna how he felt. I think his affair with Hanna was an outlet for that part of himself that had secrets, that was sick and tired of keeping up that "reasonable" persona that he had backed himself into in the community. His wife was portrayed as a very one-dimensional narrow-minded traditional small-town girl. He didn't appear to have enough energy to try to have a real inner life with her.Their marriage just seemed like an extension of a high school romance that was inconvenient to disconnect from. There is almost a tangle of tragedies here, one on top of the other, with no clear pattern as to what caused what. That is why I think PARIS TROUT is almost Shakespearean in scope. No one escapes from the tragedy. Sherry in beautiful fall weather =============== Reply 45 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/14 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:57 PM Dale, I have to disagree with you about your view of small towns. (BTW, I read PT some time ago and decided not to reread it because I have too much to read right now). I have told you that I grew up part time in Indiana, in a town with a population of 5000. During the summer, I spent my time in Gabon, Africa, so I had a broader view of the world than most children. Plus I moved to Indiana when I was ten after living in Georgia, Kentucky, Brazil, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Brazil (again). You can imagine what a shock it was when we moved to Indiana from Brazil. I might as well have just arrived from Mars. I also remember seeing a youth group arriving from Fort Wayne. One of the children was African-American. A boy from my church stood outside and threw rocks at the bus calling the other boy a chocolate drop. I have a very bad memory of my time in Indiana because of the reaction towards this boy and towards me. Jane who prefers a larger town. =============== Reply 46 of Note 14 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 10/15 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:16 AM Jane: I realized after posting my note that I'd hopelessly over-generalized about the small town situation. The dark side of small-town folks is that they're very supportive and tolerant, as long as you're "one of them." They can be hell on strangers, though, which your story verifies. On the other hand, small towns sure don't have a monopoly on prejudice and xenophobia. Judging from the headlines, incidents such as the rock-throwing are just as likely to happen in New York, Los Angeles, or Miami. Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 47 of Note 14 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 10/15 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 12:13 PM Felix: Enjoyed your note. I think Dexter did a great job of depicting the fearsome effect that Trout had on people. In interviews I've seen with people who've confronted human evil, a common thread is that they feel a mixture of revulsion and terrible fear--even when, as you say, there's no logical information to base it on. Maybe it's a primitive thing, our fight-or-flight kicking in at a level so instinctive it's below our rational thinking process. I think Dexter also pulled off the difficult trick, on a technical basis, of dipping into the workings of Trout's mind at rare and odd moments and showing how far gone he is mentally without belaboring it or undercutting the suspense. Tough, tough balancing act. I agree PT is Lear-like in many aspects. Hard to come away with any hopeful nuggets of insight into human behavior. Powerful book. Dale in Ala., who is grateful to Dick for nominating it, but wonders if it had anything to do with "trout" being in the title... =============== Reply 48 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/15 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 8:35 PM Dale and Sherry, Well, I considered remaining tactfully silent, but that is really my nature as you have all probably figured out by now. I'm afraid I am just not willing to let Seagraves off the hook that easily. Agreed that what made him interesting was that in many respects he was a likable guy who had a lot of decent qualities. Yet, I still find his behavior evil, and I am not willing to excuse it because he was just playing his assigned role in the American judicial system. First of all, I have a lot of problems with the current state of the American legal system. I know intellectually that even the worst criminals have a "right" to a defense lawyer, but it bothers me that trials have turned into adversverdana contests, in which the primary purpose is winning the game rather than discovering the truth about guilt and innocence. What has happened to the concept of justice? I like to think it wasn't always that way, but maybe I am deluding myself. When I took the tour of Williamsburg a few years ago, the guide explained how colonials chose jurors who knew the accused because they could make more intelligent decisions. Now, in high profile cases, lawyers go out of their way to find the most ignorant people possible because they are not supposed to have any preknowledge of the case. Defense lawyers use every trick and technicality in the book to keep obviously guilty people out of prison. What bothered me most about Seagraves' role in this book was that he represented so much of what is wrong with our legal system. Second, I think that Seagraves went way beyond any obligations he had as a defense lawyer by attempting to repress evidence and participating in the bribe of a witness. After all, we are talking about the totally unprovoked murder of an innocent child. And let's face it, if that child had been white, even though she had belonged to the poorest echelon of whites, Trout would have been quickly put behind bars because everyone would be wondering if they or their loved ones would be next. Because she was black, the whites put her in the category of "other" and did not see themselves as threatened. Her life was considered valueless. Seagraves himself knew that what he was doing was wrong and that is why the image of Rosie haunted him. His own death at the end of the novel was his payment for his "sin." In that sense, I must agree that this book bore the hallmarks of a classic tragedy. In real life, of course, things are not nearly so neat. I agree that you could set a story like this outside the South of the 1950's , but the prerequisites would be a victim from a completely powerless group, a group considered so alien by the power structure that they cannot identify with it. Sherry and Dale, I think I understand what you are saying about eroticism often being connected to violent images. I can understand it more when we are only talking about fantasies. But when your real life lover is explaining how she was brutally sexually abused and you tell her that you can't help seeing something erotic in it, I find that rather jarring. At the least, maybe he could have kept this knowledge to himself? As for the untouchable Mrs. Seagraves, retired beauty queen who apparently had not done anything in the least interesting in the last 20 years, it sure isn't hard to understand why Seagraves found a need to escape from her and her "mama kisses." Ann, waiting for Dick in Alaska to come to the defense of the American legal system and apologizing in advance if she has been too intemperate. =============== Reply 49 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/15 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:21 PM Dick: Getting back to Hanna-- She continues to intrigue me. What do you make of this? In the last section of the book, she cannot say that she wants to be "loose of Paris" in response to Seagroves' concern that she continues to be emotionally tied to him(Paris). Her reason for the connectedness: "I may be stumbling in the dark too and he might be down there with me". Does she feel that she has an underside that is evil and psychotic, explaining her attraction to him? There is something about her nature, including her "sexual detachment", which makes me question her sanity. I hope Mrs. Dexter did not read this book or maybe she's one of the characters Sabrina =============== Reply 50 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/15 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 11:21 PM Theresa, I agree with you totally about the loss of Rosie. Dexter did a great job of letting us get to know her. I was so happy when she was SAVED from the fox, her home life, the man that took her away...Then,to lose her life so tragically was awful. Oooh, and that death scene with Jesus coming to cover her with a of the most memorable scenes in my recent recollection. Happy Reading, Sabrina =============== Reply 51 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/17 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 1:35 AM PARIS TROUT I finished reading PT earlier this evening and have just finished reading the notes. First, I cry more than anyone I know, but htis book did not make me cry. What it did do was bring to the surface my own frustrations over the Paris Trout's of the world. This book is a little different from my usual choice of books, and despite some of the things I didn't like about it, it kept my interest and it (and the notes posted on it) give me a lot to think about. While I, too wondered why Hanna hooked up with Trout to begin with, I am also wondering why Trout hooked up with Hanna at his advanced age and as tight as he was. At the beginning of the book it was suggested that perhaps he needed somebody to talk to in the absence of his mother. This makes me think that there is something more to his relationship with his mother. There was a description of a family portrait with his mother's hand on his shoulder as if there was a secret between them and the father was looking straight at the camera (blind to whatever it was that was going on?). I thought this technique to suggest a possible situation was interesting, not that he is the first author I've seen do this, but it is a fad now to analyze family relationhips by studying family snapshots. I'm wondering what the deal was with Trout's car on the tracks during that silly train ride party? Was it a coincidence? Had his car stalled? Was he trying to kill himself? At first I thought it was intentional because he knew the *town* woudl be on that train. But later it appeared he was oblivious to the town's birthday celebrations. Also, what ever happened to the policeman, Bo Andrews, after he walked Trout to the Stocks? Why did he not continue with his arrest of Trout? As for that scene, I found it silly other than as used as a metaphor. And isn't ironic that Trout got into more "trouble" over not paying his taxes than for killing an innocent child. I didn't find the book to be so much about evil (though I certainly found Trout to be evil). BTW, I thought that Hanna, while better than most in this town, was not completely guilt-free. To me she, too, had blinders on until Trout killed Rosie and then she took them off. Someone had mentioned the scene after the shooting where Hanna says, yes, she could imagine Trout doing this. But back to my point, I didn't find the other main characters in the book to be evil. I found them to be like so many people in any community anywhere in the U.S. even today in the 1990's (though not as far as the openess of the racism). I think people have a tendency to feel that there is nothing they can do so why bother. I am sure I am guilty of this to some degree in my own community. I think the question is where do we draw the line. What is and isn't our responsibility? Much attention is given to the white people in the community who fear Trout, but put up with him--let him continue living there. I could be wrong, but it appears the black people continued doing business with him as well. Do any of you think Rosie's mother was evil even though she talked of fearing the devil? Maybe it is a person's own fear of *evil* that eventually makes him evil? I think Paris Trout was paranoid all his life. And I think paranoia has a snowball effect. As for Bonner, I liked him in an auntly (my nephews are nearing his age) sort of way. I think if given the time he would have matured. IMO, it's not that Dexter doesn't like boy scouts, I think he was just making a statement about how a young hero of sorts can go on and just be average. Bonner was just trying to deal with that. cont. =============== Reply 52 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/17 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 1:36 AM PARIS TROUT cont. I also liked Seagraves. I just don't know why he didn't just come right out and tell Bonner, "look, Trout carries loaded guns. He's Dangerous!" instead of beating around the bush. I also agree with Dale that Bonner and Seagrave were both stupid in the end. I saw it coming for Bonner, but not for Seagraves. An author's error or are people that stupid in real life? Dale, I think you have a good point about the small town/big city misconceptions. I have some thoughts on this, but it is late and I should be getting to bed. On a humorous note, I have to confess that throughout the entire book I pictured Kathy Bates as Hanna. Then something in Joe's post made me think, (not seriously, though) hey maybe Hanna (Kathy Bates) was poisoning Trout. She married him to kill him slowly and get his money, but he ended up killing Rosie in the process and that made Hanna feel guilty. Finally, what do you think Trout did with all his money? I tend to think he burned it, but maybe he didn't and wouldn't that make a great sequel? A young black woman finds the money years later... Jean--who is up past her bedtime =============== Reply 53 of Note 14 =================  
To: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Date: 10/17 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:00 AM Dear Jean, I was also wondering what happened to the money. I think he destroyed it too. That was the only way to make sure no one found it and he knew he wouldn't need it again--not that he actually ever needed it in the first place. He used it more as a way to wield power over people than as an exchange medium. I agree that I don't think that Seagraves or Bonner or the town were evil per se, but that sometimes denying that evil exists or putting up with it leads to just as much trouble in the long run. I hadn't caught the mention of the family photograph. I know there felt like there was something spooky going on between him and his mother. Sherry =============== Reply 54 of Note 14 =================  
To: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Date: 10/17 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 10:48 AM PARIS TROUT I woke up this morning with a strong feeling I should jump on here ASAP and clarify some of my statements. In addition to the many typos I am finding, I see I strayed in my paragraph about evil. I want to point out that I don't think that the actions of the characters being discussed, Paris Trout aside, are to be accepted because that was the time in which they lived. I just don't think their actions made them *evil*. I have also realized I put my own blinders on in regard to Seagraves. I found myself liking him, but I just now remembered that he *did* make a pay-off to Buster. I don't understand that action. I think he regrets that decision. I don't think that makes him evil. As far as why he would defend Paris Trout in the first place: well, I often wonder how anyone could be a criminal defense lawyer. But then again, if I was incorrectly charged with a crime I would want the right to be defended and to be defended well. I would want my lawyer's tactics to be legal, but I'd want him to do his best. And my right to that defense means that real criminals get that right as well. Despite my lack of knowledge of the laws of the law and the fact that I question and don't always understand the tactics of lawyers or the ins & outs of the judicial system, I still feel this system is better than some of the alternatives. But that is really another bag of worms. I also see this novel as a straightforward story about a Southern town in the '50s and the inequities and injustices of the time. Underneath the surface we can discuss why and what, etc. In addition, so many of your posts seem to stay focused within the scope of the novel, while I feel I tend to start connecting everything in terms of my own experiences and end up side-tracked. Before we throw stones and just label these people as evil, we should take a look at our own actions in our own communities. Do we know of anyone in our community who we know to be drug-users or drug sellers? Or maybe there is just a rumor that so & so does this sort of thing? I probably have more in my neighborhood, than any of you have in yours (or yours are just more discrete), but what do you do about? (I'm not talking about guys selling drugs to kids or major drug dealers here.) Or change it to any other illegal activity you can think of. Big or small. Ticket fixxing? Jean--getting side-tracked once again and probably diggin herself in deeper =============== Reply 55 of Note 14 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 10/17 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 10:49 AM Ann, I agree with you that if Rosie had been white there would have been a totally different reaction from the townspeople. But do you think Seagraves would have still defended Trout if the girl had been white? And even if the girl had been white, Trout would still be entitled as an American citizen to a defense attorney. Also, maybe I am being idealistic here, but I think in terms of the judicial system I think we are in a better state today than we were in the fifties. I think it is FAR from perfect and we have probably picked up some new bad things along the way, but for the most part I think things seem better. I look forward to hearing Dick's opinions on all this lawyer talk. Jean who should be cleaning or reporting drug dealers or something =============== Reply 56 of Note 14 =================  
To: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Date: 10/17 From: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Time: 7:38 PM Hi Jean, You made some very good points. Every time I think about Seagraves, I come up with a different opinion. But then that it the mark of a good book, don't you think ? The author really makes you think and the there is a lot of ambiguity in his work. Trout himself is not ambiguous. I think we would all agree that he is downright crazy. Anyone who believes that it is moral to kill someone over a bad debt, particularly someone only peripherally related to the debtor, is not operating with a full deck. I doubt if any of us empathized with him much. However, Seagraves is different. Dexter purposely made him very normal and, in many ways, sympathetic. For that reason, I think he is a far more interesting character. Your point that he was merely doing his job has a lot of validity. However, I found Rosie's murder so horrendous that it was hard for me to imagine myself trying to defend her murderer. And perhaps my reaction to Seagraves was an outgrowth of that failure of imagination. Buster Dexter and Trout talked to the policeman after the murder and told him what happened, but Seagraves instructed them all to forget this conversation ever took place and came up with a totally invented scenario for the trial. For this and other reasons, I felt that he went beyond what was required of him as a defense lawyer and acted unethically. I also felt that the power structure of the town deserved to share some of Trout's guilt because they chose to ignore the fact that bribery kept him out of prison. As you pointed out, it is always easy to look the other way, and I might very well have done the same. But that doesn't make it right. There are sins of omission as well as those of commission. (Golly, I didn't forget all those years of Catholic religion classes after all). You brought up a really interesting question that I had not considered much-- why did Trout marry Hana? Dexter described him as a man who did not like to be touched, so I didn't think sex had much to do with it until I got to the sodomy scene. Originally, I thought he was just looking for someone to work in the store after his mother became incapacitated, but I think you are right that it was probably a lot more complicated than that. Yeah, and what did he do with all that money? He never spent any of it, so it wasn't the money per se that attracted him, but the power it represented. I could certainly see him burning it all up. Ann =============== Reply 57 of Note 14 =================  
To: TQWX67A ANN DAVEY Date: 10/17 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 10:43 PM I'd have to label Seagraves the "evil" character, rather than Trout. Trout DID evil, but he was also nuts - way, way round the bend, so far gone he had no chance of finding his way back. I don't 100% buy into the notion that would excuse "crazy" people from culpability for their sins. Trout was culpable, but he had gone beyond being able to effectively govern his own actions. Seagraves definitely had not. He had full control of his actions. He had opportunity to do right, and he made a free (and sane) choice to do wrong. I don't think we can excuse him by saying he was merely fulfilling his role as an attorney. His actions went far beyond any duty he owed to his client, He wasn't even in a moral gray area. He was just plain wrong, and I think he damn well knew it. Not that I believe this sort of thing doesn't go on in real life, but that is what makes Seagraves so frightening. He was the voice of reason, even a rather humanistic voice, and yet he facilitated evil. He went quite a bit beyond just allowing Trout to happen (which we all do, every day, in many, many ways. We'd collapse if we took on every evil act in the world). So, to use a term I cannot stand, Seagraves was the co-dependent. Why, I still can't fathom. Theresa =============== Reply 58 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/18 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:23 PM Theresa: I think your view on Seagraves is quite right. He is representative of the community view: the people who have compromised on moral issues for so long, in so many venues, they no longer can distinguish between civil accomodation and outright surrender to evil. Someone earlier mentioned Hannah Arendt in the context of this book, which I think is right on the money -- 'the banality of evil'. It wasn't Trout the monster who was responsible for the crimes in this novel; it was the community and city fathers (no mothers here) that allowed his greed and racism to fester and turn to genuine madness without any check or restraint. Little Rose was the victim; everyone else's wounds were largely self-inflicted. Dick in Alaska, at the end of yet another monstrosity of a week =============== Reply 59 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/18 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:45 PM Hi all, I mentioned earlier that I have been lurking here because I read PARIS TROUT several years ago and decided not to reread it. After I read the book Tom N. and I rented the movie. Dennis Hopper played Trout, Barbara Hershey was Hannah, and I don't remember who played Seagraves. DH and BH were great. Has anyone else seen this movie? Jane who also had a difficult week at work. =============== Reply 60 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/19 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 2:21 PM Sherry, I finally got into the book and am very impressed by Dexter's writing skill. The writing is ominous and this agrees with your original note. I am glad that this book was suggested since I would not have read this book otherwise. I would have given up because of the realism, or morbidity (???). I have seen and experienced too much of it to enjoy reading about it. But I will bravely continue on looking forward to the discussion. Ernie =============== Reply 61 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/20 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 2:40 PM Sherry, I started the book with apprehension as I may have written in an earlier note. But getting to the middle of it I am not only pleased to read it, but am terribly impressed by Dexter's writing skill. The theme is old of course. The people in power vs. the powerless. Right vs. wrong, but the presentation is great. I am trying to say that I am pleased that you suggested this book. Ernie =============== Reply 62 of Note 14 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 10/20 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 3:56 PM Dear Ernie, I'm glad you are joining us in reading PARIS TROUT, but you can thank Richard Haggart for the suggestion. Sherry =============== Reply 63 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/20 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 5:20 PM Hi, Sabrina: I've been pondering your note about Hanna's puzzling behavior in not being able to completely break away emotionally from her husband, despite the horrible violence he's done, both to her and to the girl and woman he killed. I'm still puzzled, but I did remember a casual conversation I had with a psychiatrist friend once, in which he dropped a quiet bombshell by saying somewhat offhandedly that "The ideal basis for a relationship, of course, is love. But under certain circumstances, two people can be bound just as tightly, if not more so, by hate. The only thing a relationship *can't* survive is indifference." I'm wondering if Hanna couldn't move past the sad "bond" of hating Paris Trout, into the indifference that would have afforded her at least some sense of freedom...and if so, how is this phenomenon reflected in the *non*-romantic relationships of our lives--our partners, supporters, and opponents (and combinations thereof) business, community life, church, etc.? Whew. Heavy, heavy. Any enlightenment appreciated, Dale in sunny and cooler Ala. =============== Reply 64 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 7:04 PM Just finished my second reading of PT. I must say I found it just as puzzling this time around as the first time I read it a year or so ago. It's a hard book for me to fathom. I didn't find a single character I felt I wanted to empathize with. Even Rosie left me cold. Granted, she was a sympathetic kid, but I didn't get to know her well enough before she was knocked off. No tears, here, although I can be a fountain of them sometimes. Perhaps Rosie wasn't real enough to me because she wasn't real enough to the author, just a device to start the ball rolling. Sure, Dale, hate can be a bond. Anything can be a bond. We can even create bonds out of nothing. Or we can be stuck with bonds of our own making which have no undoing. As long as we have children, we have a bond to our ex-mates that prevents us from ever closing the door entirely. Who was it that said they thought that Hanna was reacting to the mores of the time, in that a woman wasn't worth anything unless she was married? I think they were right on the money. There's a self-loathing which Hanna exhibited which could be a reflection of the fact that not only was she unable to "catch" a man until she was 44, but that she pulled in a pretty lousy specimen at that. Thankgod the days are receding in which a woman was evaluated by society in terms of her man, rather than in terms of herself. Ruth, celebrating fall with a glass fresh cider from Oak Glen, just up (literally) the road a piece from Red.ands =============== Reply 65 of Note 14 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 10/20 From: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Time: 7:41 PM Jane - That was Ed Harris who played Seagraves. I did make mention of the movie earlier in this thread (back on 10/10). I thought Hopper was excellent, Hershey good, Harris merely present, but I didn't see any of the ambiguities of either Harry's or Hannah's characters written into their parts(screenwritten by Dexter by the way). What was the significance I wonder of all the lead actors' names beginning with H? The precis from my movie guide: ' 2 1/2 stars. Pete Dexter's bleak tale on 1949 Georgia gets first-cabin treatment but remains as inexplicably pointless as his novel.' A bit rough off the cuff dismissal, non? Joe B =============== Reply 66 of Note 14 =================  
To: ACCR69A JOSEPH BARREIRO Date: 10/20 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 8:45 PM Anyone but me curious about the guy's name? I mean PARIS TROUT is not your everyday moniker. No mention in the novel of its derivation or significance. Are we supposed to make something of it? Ruth, inclined to agree with the inexplicably pointless thing =============== Reply 67 of Note 14 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 10/20 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 9:39 PM Ruth: I too was somewhat taken with the name 'Paris Trout'. but just assumed it was more of that southern color stuff. However, recall that 'Paris' was the son of Priam & Hecuba (late of Troy fame) and Hecuba had a dream that he would bring disaster on the family, so she dumped him on the mountain side. However a pesky shepard picked up the abandoned child, and raised him up to, ultimately, bring disaster on his family by running off with that Greek bimbo, Helen. Frankly, that's a pretty far stretch, but I guess you could make it work if you were in an English III class someplace. Dick in Alaska, where we've got plenty of mountains, unaccountably bare of small children =============== Reply 68 of Note 14 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 10/20 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 9:42 PM I thought it was a French fish. =============== Reply 69 of Note 14 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 10/20 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 10:09 PM Ruth, While I find Rosie's murder a horrendous act, I, too, felt that Dexter used her as a device to get the ball rolling. Jean =============== Reply 70 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/20 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 10:09 PM Ann & Theresa, I have been reading for years without the benefit of discussing in such detail the books I've read. With each new note I have more to think about. I am getting so much more out of this book because I get to "hear" so many intelligent insights into the book and, therefore, into life itself. First, Ann, I, too, have vague recollections of Catholic religion classes! I'm beginning to think that Dexter did a good job of making me like Seagraves. I was caught up in his charisma when I had just completed the book. Now I am remembering more and more things he did that I didn't like in addition to his unethical behavior. Nothing like having the "finest" of the community passing out on your kitchen floor. And then, that he told Hanna that the abuse with the mineral water bottle aroused him. Theresa, you have a good point about the culpability of crazy people and that Seagraves was actually more guilty. Since evil seems to be the topic of choice on CR, I thought I'd mention a picture book about good and evil I had just recently checked out of the library for myself. It is GOOD GRISELLE by Jane Yolen and handsomely illustrated by David Christiana. It is about the appealing forms the devil takes to try to tempt us and the hardships of life that try us. It didn't catch my kids interest, but I enjoyed it. Jean =============== Reply 71 of Note 14 =================  
To: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Date: 10/21 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 0:05 AM Well, Jean, if you think we have been obsessed with talking about "evil" on CR, just wait until you get to the next book: PERFUME. Evil without a doubt. Sherry =============== Reply 72 of Note 14 =================  
To: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Date: 10/21 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 1:34 AM It's been a couple of years since I read this book, but I still seem to have a lot to say about it! Contrast Seagrave with the woman who "rescued" Rosie. She had a lot less power, but when confronted with evil, strode right on in and snatched up the child. She wasn't as interesting a character - if conflict = "the story" there wasn't much of a story there. I agree that Rosie was just a story-telling device - and it might have made for a more interesting story if Dexter had given her a bit more character - and made her more of a player in her own life. I realize he needed the most helpless of the helpless for his plot (and who more stereotypically helpless than a female, black, child in the South) but she a bit too depersonalized (if that's even a word). Theresa =============== Reply 73 of Note 14 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 10/21 From: KFBC86B JEAN MILLER BELL Time: 9:21 PM Yes, count me in as curious about the name. When I worked for the software store, I had a young customer (high school age) named Paris. I can't remember his last name. This kid was a sweetheart though--nothing like the Trout variety! I can't remember if he told me how his parents had come up with that name. Of course, in my son's pre-school a few years ago there was a London, Kenya and Asia. Speaking of unique names, the female cashier at the grocery store yesterday was named Clover. I had never heard that used as a first name, but I kind of like it. Jean =============== Reply 74 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/23 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 0:33 AM Hi Dale, I'm not sure if I perceived Hana as hating Trout, per se. Their relationship was certainly CHARGED. I think she was ATTRACTED to him as if to a magnet. I'm not sure that she understood why just like we can't comprehend it. Seagroves picked up on it though. I find that there are certain people that I am attracted to, positively and negatively and then some people that to whom I respond with indifference. Very interesting thoughts to ponder. Sabrina, basically agreeing with you but offering to profound enlightenment =============== Reply 75 of Note 14 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 10/23 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 0:33 AM I just want to say again that Rosie really evoked feelings in me. I think Dexter did more with her than he really had to in order to use her as a plot device. He presented her as being an emotionally neglected child if not abused child with the accompanying fearfulness, gullibiltiy, neediness... I once knew an abused child who died in a horrible accident. I remember having the same feelings I had about Rosie. How unfortunate it was that she would never have the opportunity to live a decent life. Although I agree that she was a plot device, she was an important part of the book for me. Sabrina, who continues to be afraid of dogs and rabies shots =============== Reply 76 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/24 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 3:10 PM I have something to add to the puzzle of Hanna and Paris's marriage made in heaven. One of my college acquaintances, a girl my age told me that she had just met the guy she must get married to. She explained that he is the exact opposite of her brother who is brilliant, cultured, etc. etc., She found it impossible to have a physical relationship with someone other than the opposite of her brother. Strangely enough many many years later I did run into her once more. I asked her the usual questions about family, kids, etc., Yes, she was still married to the same guy, had grown kids, had her own business (real estate) and seemed happy as can be expected. What can we make of this??? Ernie =============== Reply 77 of Note 14 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 10/25 From: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Time: 4:19 PM Hi Ernie, My question is, What is your woman friend's personality like? Is she the opposite of her brother (cultured, brilliant)? You have to wonder about someone who chooses lovers using a brother as a reference point. However, it SEEMS that she has led a happy, successful life. People are so interesting. Sabrina =============== Reply 78 of Note 14 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 10/25 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 4:41 PM Hi, Ernie: Fascinating, that this woman was intent on finding a mate who was the *mental* opposite of her brother; somehow I could see a physical opposite easier, though for me both concepts raise the question of whether she'd experienced incestuous impulses at some level and was trying to quash them..."protesting too much, methinks." Then, too, there's the old saying that we all want to marry the emotional equivalent of our fathers/mothers, or in any event what we idealize them to be. Have you found this true in your professional experience, or is it an over-generalization? Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 79 of Note 14 =================  
To: TPRS02A SABRINA MOLDEN Date: 10/26 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 7:33 PM Sabrina, I knew her when we were both grad students at the University and she was rather a nice person. To come to the point she may have been in competition with her brother and set herself high goals. But she essentially lacked interests in what she was doing, taking psych courses or whatever. She was befriending guys in school but it did not seem of a serious nature. She may have related to males better than to females. When I met her again many years later (more recently) she still seemed attracted to men and achievement. I did not get a feeling of warmth or intellectual interests. She may see herself as a success and she is in a way, but not in the same way that I would see success. There is something impersonal or superficial in the way she relates. Ernie =============== Reply 80 of Note 14 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 10/26 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 7:41 PM Dale, Of course there was an element of incest- fear in her choices, that's what it was all about. A discussion with my supervising profs went along these lines. A most unfortunate problem, due perhaps of having been to close to the brother or having competed with him from an early age. I have heard it said that we either pick a spouse like our parents or the opposite. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. There is a professor named Buss who wrote a good deal about mate selection and prediction of selection. I never quite understood exactely what he had to say. But there is a good deal of work done which has to do with finding the "best bet" for reproducing success. Another thought, at the Israeli communes or Kibutzes, kids reared together rarely if ever find each other attractive or get married. There is an innate mechanism in man against in-breeding which reduces reproductive success in the long run. Ernie =============== Reply 81 of Note 14 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 10/26 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 7:59 PM Dale, just had a power outage and was taken off line in the middle of a sentence and of course don't remember what it was. Just wanted to say something along the line that I can't visualize myself living in the type of society that Dexter describes. Ernie To: ALL Date: 11/06 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:49 PM PARIS TROUT--the latecomers................................. Just finished PARIS TROUT last week-end and have been mulling it over and reading your notes ever since. Am really glad you nominated it, Dick. As Ann said, I never would have read this otherwise and the writing is outstanding. The true kernels of greatness are in the beginning, before Rosie dies, I Dick said. However, the whole book leaves me pondering various characters and reactions. It's interesting to me that Paris is not the one who keeps me thinking. He is somewhat one-dimensional in his evil qualities and ever worsening mental illness. The real interest here, for me, is in those who react to and interact with him. I'm finding that Hanna's character is leaving the strongest impression on me. I've always been interested in women in this century, prior to the 70's, who chose to or simply ended up moving in a non-traditional direction, without a man. They seemed to pay in a myriad of ways, psychologically, for their direction...and probably would have, just due to their upbringing, even without the comments of others. I'm sure that Dexter meant to imply that Hanna was a woman with strong sexual needs who had simply found herself successful, organized, a bit intimidating...and alone. Along comes Paris Trout, in whom, on the surface, she saw strength, some similar values (remember that they both believed in wasting nothing and hard work). At 40, she took the gamble and decided not to analyze and organize for once...and just take the chance. What a tragedy the gamble becomes. I'm not sure why she retains that attachment to Paris after he so totally abuses her...I couldn't decide if it was supposed to be her own bit of self-hate or if she retained her connection to the vision of Paris she first saw...or what. As I read on in the book, I thought back a number of times to that image of her taking charge of Rosie and taking her to the doctor when Rosie comes back to Paris' store. That woman was the person Hanna was prior to Paris made what she let herself in for even sadder. Seagraves seemed to me to be the king of rationalization...cursed with the ability to see what was happening, but feeling unable to get out of his role of being the person who is trusted by the town to represent those with money. By the time, he realizes just how bad it is, he's accepted the case and is beyond the point of being able to withdraw. One thing I've learned from watching my husband who does some criminal law is that it's not always as easy for a lawyer to withdraw from a case as you might think. Beyond that, he seems to have become this awful sad mish-mash with relatively little strength to match his intelligence and sense of kindness. Carl Bonner and his wife seemed underdeveloped and sort of irrelevant to me. I think Dexter must have wanted to contrast this adult Eagle Scout with Paris Trout's evil, but it just didn't work somehow for me. In any case, this is some reading that won't leave me for a while. Great recommendation, Dick. Barb

Pete Dexter

I thought Dexter's writing in the early part of the book was much more evocative and moving than later, when the story moved out into the white part of the town. I thought he did a very good job of capturing the vulnerability and helplessness of the black community, living right on the edge of white indifference and rage. When those two worlds collided and the little girl was killed I was moved, not to tears, but a kind of sick astonishment.
Dick in Alaska
I agree that books like PARIS TROUT work against the expected, conventional fictional treatment of serious subjects. This is not a work of spiritual uplift, anymore than KING LEAR is. I am impressed by the inexorableness (is that a word?) of evil working itself out to the less-than-reassuring end. I can't say conclusion, because there is no neat moral to be drawn here. Evil just is, you don't tie up the consequences in neat packages.
I thought Hanna and Seagraves demonstrated aspects of general societal acquiesence to people like Paris Trout. After all, what was the real basis of Trout's power? Why was the town so accepting of his behaviour? What did he really add that was beneficial to the community?

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