REVIEW ò They Don't Dance Much

SUMMARY è REFLECTIONSLISBURNLTD.CO.UK ´ James Ross

In this classic country noir featuring a new introduction by Daniel Woodrell a small town farmer takes a job at a roadhouse where unbridled greed leads to a brutal murder Jack McDonald is barely a farmer Boll weevils have devoured his cotton crop his chickens have stopped laying eggs and everything he owns is mortgaged ev. Just finished this novel moments ago and I'm feeling pretty much pole axed by the uality of the writing and the stunning and beautifully written ending It's a cross between James M Cain and William Faulkner Naaaaahhh not Faulkner Not reallyIt's in a league of its ownIt's tough and it's hardboiled and a richly rewarding readIf you're a fan of Country Noir you owe it to yourself to read thisI'm going to have to cogitate on this one a whileMight try to write a coherent review of this tomorrow or the next dayDoubt I'm capable of doing this literary masterpiece justiceIt's absolutely the best novel I've read since Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All The Time or the last Daniel Woodrell2nd time around and I'm as numb after reading the last page as I was the first time I read this novelTwo hard cases team up to start the finest roadhouse Depression era North Carolina ever sawThe legal liuor and the bootleg liuor fly off the shelvesTwo slot machines and only one of them ever pays off but rarely at that Every card deck is personally shaved by the ownerEverything is working outThen greed and murder get the best of the twoThis novel is as brilliantly written and as suspenseful as I originally judged it to beUnforgettableHighest Possible Recommendation

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They Don't Dance MuchN a roadhouse and he asks Jack to run the till The music will be hot the liuor cheap and the clientele rough But the only thing stronger than Milligan's hooch is his greed and Jack is slowly drawn into the middle of Smut's dalliances with a married woman the machinations of corrupt town officials and a savage act of murde. Before McCarthy before Gay before O'Connor and Farris Smith and Rash and Woodrell there was James Ross's They Don't Dance MuchPublished in 1940 the original southern noir novel stands the test of time very well It tells the story of Jack McDonald a failed farmer who takes a job at a roadhouse in the small town of Corinth NCHe falls under the wing of the owner Smut Milligan who eventually embroils Jack in a brutal murderThe novel brilliantly depicts the semi hillbilly community which is a mix of drunks flashy rich guys and downtrodden wives Ross combines a compelling plot with highly evocative writing and wonderful eccentric charactersFrom what I can tell the book has had a turbulent history being shifted from publisher to publisher and never doing too well I guess some of the racial language may be a little fresh for the modern ear but it is very much a novel worth reading and is at the heart of all the southern noir country noir and southern gothic writing that has followed it

James Ross ´ 1 REVIEW

REVIEW ò They Don't Dance Much ↠ In this classic country noir featuring a new introduction by Daniel Woodrell a small town farmer takes a job at a roadhouse where unbridled greed leads to a brutal murder Jack McDonald is barely a farmer Boll weevils have devoured his cotton crop his chickens have stopped laying eggs and everything he owns is mortgagEn his cow He has no money no prospects and nothing to do but hang around filling stations wondering where his next drink will come from As far as hooch goes there's no place like Smut Milligan's where Breath of Spring moonshine sells for a dollar a pint A bootlegger with an entrepreneurial spirit Milligan has plans to ope. SynopsisblurbCalled by Raymond Chandler “a sleazy corrupt but completely believable story of a North Carolina town” this tough realis­tic novel exemplifies Depression literature in the United StatesFalling somewhere between the hard as nails writing of James M Cain and the early stories of Ernest Hemingway James Ross’s novel was for sheer brutality and frankness of language considerably ahead of his reading public’s taste for realism untinged with sentiment or profundity The setting of They Don’t Dance Much is a roadhouse on the outskirts of a North Carolina town on the border with South Carolina complete with dance floor res­taurant gambling room and cabins rented by the hour In the events described Smut Milligan the proprietor seeks money to keep operating and commits a brutal murder My takeAccording to the list of books I've read on Goodreads I read this before 2010 with a 35 rating which was when I started logging what I was reading My pre 2010 read list was compiled from memory I kind of expected bits of this to come back to me as I re read it but I never got the sense of recovering old ground False memory maybeA slight post Depression era tale set maybe a year or two before it was written 1940 and in essence it's a story of two men Times are still tight Jackson McDonald is in debt and is about to lose his family land due to unpaid taxes Smut Mulligan runs a filling station and also sells illegally produced alcohol Mulligan has big plans to turn his station into a big roadhouse and money earner Smut offers Jack a job as a cashierThe roadhouse is a fair success in a relatively short space of time but Mulligan has borrowed heavily to get things off the ground The income coming in doesn't allow for enough to easily pay the bank notes and whoever else he owes Solution murderOne of the patrons of the bar rumour has it Has a stash buried somewhere on his land Smut enlists Jack in his plan without actually telling McDonald what he's up to Jack is basically duped Bert Ford gets tortured killed and disposed of eventually and not without a few close shaves and the pair dig up a sum of money Not uite the expected amount but in the region of about 12k Mulligan the lead takes charge of the money promising Jack his share when things cool downMoving on a bit The sheriff is due for re election and is feeling the heat over the investigation into the disappearance and suspected murder of Ford Evidence at the scene of the confrontation between the three suggests Ford met a bad end with robbery the motive He needs a body in the jail to keep his job Jack keeps getting blown off by Smut who he suspects is dipping into the proceeds to keep the wolves at bay and the roadhouse afloat His share of the money is always coming on the never neverThe book develops into a battle of wills between Smut and Jack Their initial partnership albeit a lop sided one developing into a relationship of real enmity and distrust Something has to giveOn reflection I enjoyed this one than the last time I read it assuming I did read it and probably have a higher regard for it a week or two one from finishing it than I actually had at the time I was reading it At the time I kind of felt it was a bit slow We or less live through every day in the lead up to the dramatic event and the aftermath of it A bit of distance and maybe the pace is perfect as Ross gradually creeps the tension into the narrative with Mulligan and Jack McDonald circling each other like a couple of sharks trying to sense a weakness and hone an advantageThere's a lot of small town detail of the period which shines through in the characters There's the successful businessman Charles Fisher with the trophy wife Lola; there's Astor LeGrand another of influence and power with a eye for an opportunity to further his interests hopefully at the expense of Mulligan if he can't repay his debts Lola herself is flighty and bored with her husband and playing a dangerous game with Mulligan And there's the contrast with the have nots; Smut's staff working for food board and lodgings and whatever change he throws their way His black handyman and booze brewer Catfish always bumming smokes and rides and sips from the bottleA few of our lesser characters come to play an important part in the eventual climax of the book4 from 5They Don't Dance Much was the only novel James Ross ever had publishedMore thoughts on this one can be found over at The Dark Timehttpelginbleeckerblogspotcom201Read in February 2019Published 1940Page count 304Source owned copyFormat paperbackhttpscol2910blogspotcom201903