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In the 1970s and 1980s, before he earned national acclaim for his award-winning novels, Pete Dexter was a newspaper columnist. Every week, in a few hundred words, Dexter cut directly to the heart of the American character at a time of national turmoil and crucial change. With haunting urgency, his columns laid bare the violence, hypocrisy, and desperation he saw on the streets of Philadelphia and in the places he visited across the country. But he reveled, too, in the lighter side of his own life, sharing scenes with the indefatigable Mrs. Dexter, their young daughter, and a series of unforgettable creatures who strayed into their lives. No matter what caught Dexter's eye, it was illuminated by his dark, brilliant humor.

Collected here for the first time are eighty-two of the best of those spellbinding, finely wrought pieces--with a new introduction by the author--assembled by Rob Fleder, editor of the bestselling "Sports Illustrated 50th Anniversary Book." "Paper Trails" is searing, heart-breaking, and irresistibly funny, sometimes all at once. As Pete Hamill says in his foreword, these essays "are as good as it ever gets."

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