RARA-AVIS: 1940s: James Ross, They Don't Dance Much

From: Al Guthrie ( allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk)
Date: 18 Dec 2002

Published in 1940, THEY DON'T DANCE MUCH appears to be James Ross's only novel. And that's a real shame, since, to my mind at least, TDDM is a milestone in the history of noir fiction. Set in a small North Carolina town, the novel is an early example of country noir. Essentially a straightforward tale of robbery gone wrong, much of the immense impact of the book is in the simplicity of the story-telling. The protagonist, Jack MacDonald (he has a brother called John and another called Ross - only kidding), has one of the most colloquial voices I've encountered outside of real life, which makes the nightmare situation in which he finds himself all the more credible, harrowing and in-your-face. Not only the narrator's voice, but also the setting, events, and one of its main character's psychopathic psychology should particularly appeal to Jim Thompson fans.

Oh, yeah. As the title promises, so it delivers. There isn't much dancing.


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