Gilbert Cruz
January 31, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Paper Trails

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Pete Dexter
publisher
Ecco Press
genre
Essays, Nonfiction

We gave it a B-

”You can’t write columns and hide who you are,” claims former Philadelphia Daily News and Sacramento Bee scribe Pete Dexter (who also authored the novel Paris Trout). If that’s true, then Paper Trails, a collection of 82 pieces, reveals a man of two moods: intense or shlocky. That first, more interesting half writes about odd, sad, and marginalized characters, some the victims of incredibly vicious crimes (such as a man robbed, disembowled, and left for dead) and others just subject to the cruel whims of fate. Unfortunately, the other Dexter — the one who writes folksy tales about cats and dogs and pigs — minimizes those accomplishments with a glut of sentimentality. B-

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