Re: RARA-AVIS: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Ned Fleming (
Tue, 03 Aug 1999 03:21:51 GMT

This ("They Shoot Horses, Don't They?") is something of an interesting read, as an anachronism, though Syverten's motives for killing Gloria are beyond understanding. The thread between Gloria's death wish and Syverten's willingness to carry it out are tenuous at best. I suppose dancing for 800+ hours (or reading 800+ Peter Walker messages) would drive anyone to the brink of insanity, but the brevity of the book does not make this clear. I doubt that McCoy understood the dynamics of sleep-deprivation, for this is mostly ignored in the book.

Gloria's unremitting death cant is tied, obviously, to the relentless pounding of the surf Syverten senses beneath his feet. Though why this is, I don't know. Gloria has been abused sexually, or has submitted herself sexually to a number of zchlubs, but I can find no ties between Gloria's misuse and stupidity and the (obvious) theme of the sea.

I vaguely remember the movie, from when it first came out, and thought it utterly depressing. It did, however, as near as I can remember, give a greater sense of the stupefying length of the marathon.

Perhaps equally interesting as the story itself is the volume I read this in: "Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s," Robert Polity, editor, which includes novels by Cain, McCoy, Anderson, Fearing, Gresham, and Woolrich. A companion volume of 1950s work is also available. These books were obviously lovingly created, for they have the ribbon markers one usually finds in Bibles, with similar quality paper. They look like they're well worth stealing.

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