Title: Paris Trout
Author: Pete Dexter
First published January 1, 1988
306 pages, Paperback
In the small town of Cotton Point after World War II, a murder shatters the facade of polite white society and exposes the deep-seated divisions of race and class. Paris Trout, the storekeeper accused of shooting a black girl, feels no guilt and has no fear that the system won’t work in his favor.
As the trial unfolds, the stark reality of social and racial tensions are brought to light, forcing the town to confront its own prejudices. Pete Dexter, a former newspaper columnist and author of “Deadwood” and “God’s Pocket,” delivers a powerful social drama that won the prestigious National Book Award in 1988.
About the Author
Pete Dexter has written six novels, including the acclaimed Paris Trout, for which he won the National Book Award. He has also written for newspapers like the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee, as well as magazines such as Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy.
In addition to his writing, Dexter has worked on screenplays for movies like Rush and Mulholland Falls. He spent his early years moving around between Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, and South Dakota, but now resides on an island near Washington.
Erewhon, the debut novel by Samuel Butler, was first published in 1872 and has since become a classic of Victorian literature. A combination of satire and science fiction, the novel tells the story of a young explorer who stumbles upon an isolated utopian society in the mountains of New Zealand.
Butler’s background as a theologian and classicist shines through in Erewhon, where he imagines a society where machinery is outlawed and organic cures are used for illnesses. The novel’s themes explore Darwinian evolution, the role of government and religion, and the paradox of a perfect society.
The narrative follows the character of Higgs, a young Englishman who gets lost while exploring the mountains of New Zealand. He is captured by the Erewhonians and must prove his worth to earn his freedom.
Along the way, Higgs learns about the society’s unusual customs and beliefs and begins to question his own values and beliefs. The novel’s use of satire is clever and biting, and Butler’s storytelling skills are impressive.
His writing is imaginative and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the lush New Zealand landscape and the strange ways of the Erewhonians. One of the novel’s strengths is its ability to explore complex themes in an entertaining and accessible way.
Butler’s critiques of Victorian society are subtle but effective, and his musings on the nature of freedom and happiness are timeless. However, at times the novel can come across as heavy-handed in its message, and the pacing can be slow in places.
Some readers may also find the Erewhonians’ beliefs and customs to be bizarre and off-putting. Despite these flaws, Erewhon is a fascinating and thought-provoking read that will appeal to fans of science fiction and satire.
Its historical significance as a classic of Victorian literature cannot be overstated, and its examination of society and human nature is still relevant today. Overall, I would recommend Erewhon to readers who enjoy thought-provoking and imaginative storytelling.
While it may not be for everyone, fans of classic literature and science fiction will find much to enjoy in this quirky and unique novel. I give it a rating of 4 stars out of 5.