Pete Dexter

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Pete Dexter
Born (1943-07-22) July 22, 1943 (age 79)
Pontiac, Michigan, United States
OccupationNovelist, screenwriter

Pete Dexter (born July 22, 1943) is an American novelist.[1][2][3]

Dexter won the U.S. National Book Award in 1988 for his novel Paris Trout.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Dexter was born in Pontiac, Michigan. His father died when Dexter was four and he and his mother moved to Milledgeville, Georgia, where she married a college physics professor.[5] He earned his undergraduate degree in 1969 from the University of South Dakota, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters and Literature in 2010.


He worked for what is now The Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Florida, but quit in 1972 because the paper's owners forced the editorial page editor to endorse Richard Nixon over George McGovern.[6] He was a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News,[1][when?] The Sacramento Bee,[7][when?] and syndicated to many newspapers such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Dexter began writing fiction after a life-changing 1981 incident in the Devil's Pocket, neighborhood in South Philadelphia, in which a mob of locals armed with baseball bats beat him severely. The perpetrators were upset by Dexter's recent column about a murder involving a drug deal-gone-wrong, published on 9 December 1981 in the Philadelphia Daily News,

A couple of weeks ago, a kid named Buddy Lego was found dead in Cobbs Creek,” wrote Dexter. “It was a Sunday afternoon. He was from the neighborhood, a good athlete, a nice kid. Stoned all the time. The kind of kid you think you could have saved.

The kid’s mother called Dexter, nearly hysterical. How, she cried, could he write that her dead son was a drug user? Lego’s brother, Tommy, the night bartender at Dougherty’s, was also on the phone, screaming at the then-38-year-old columnist, demanding a retraction.[8]

Dexter went to Dougherty's bar to talk to Tommy Lego, having told Lego he wouldn't be publishing a retraction. In the bar, Dexter was blindsided by two blows to the jaw, splintering and breaking teeth. Later, Dexter returned with a friend, heavyweight prizefighter Randall "Tex" Cobb. In the ensuing fight outside the bar in the street, Cobb's arm was broken and Dexter was hospitalized with several injuries, including a broken back, pelvis, brain damage and dental devastation. Cobb's injuries cost him a shot at WBA heavyweight champion Mike Weaver.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Paper Trails, published in 2007, is a compilation of columns he wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Sacramento Bee from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Personal life[edit]

For many years, Dexter lived and wrote on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound.[5][6][9] Dexter holds a position as Writer in Residence in the creative writing program at the University of South Dakota. He lives in Vermillion, South Dakota, near the University.




  • Paper Trails (2007)



  1. ^ NPR Weekend Edition. - February 10, 2007. - "Pete Dexter, Writing 'True Stories'"
  2. ^ Harper Collins. - Pete Dexter Archived 2014-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Seattle Post-Intelligencer, - "P-I Writers in Residence for 2007"
  4. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1988". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  5. ^ a b Rosenberg, Amy S. (April 10, 2007). - "Journey BACK". - The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  6. ^ a b Eyman, Scott (November 23, 2003). - "The Return of the No-Nonsense Writer". - The Palm Beach Post.
  7. ^ Bolle, Sonja (July 24, 1988). "Pete Dexter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
    • a "How does a Sacramento Bee columnist come to write a novel..." — ¶ 1.
    • b "He likes Sacramento, where his boss is an old friend from Florida." — ¶ 7.
  8. ^ a b Conklin, Ellis E. (2011-10-25). "Pete Dexter Lets It Bleed". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  9. ^ a b Hiltbrand, David (November 4, 2003). - "A Return to His Old Stomping Grounds". - The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  10. ^ Collins, Glenn (1988-12-05). "From Memory to Page, Or How Pete Dexter Wrote a Prize Winner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  11. ^ Juhi (2013-09-23). "Pete Dexter: "You Have to be Hurt to See Anything at All"". WordPress. Retrieved 2021-07-25.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Bowe, Barry (2015-03-09). "Randall Tex Cobb | Blame My Father". Retrieved 2021-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Fernandez, Bernard (2017-11-25). "The Night Randall "Tex" Cobb Made Howard Cosell Quit (and More)". The Sweet Science. Retrieved 2021-07-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]