James Ross was a writer from North Carolina, he wrote some short stories and wrote for newspapers in the south. This book intrigued me when I heard about it. James Ross wrote this country noir book before country noir was a thing. Daniel Woodrell cites this as an influence in his work. They Don’t Dance Much was published in 1940 and received praise from his contemporaries, people like Raymond Chandler, William Gay, and Flannery O’Connor loved the book. Reviewers of this book often compared him to Chandler and even Dashiell Hammett. You would think we had a noir literary pioneer on our hands! And we should have, but Ross didn’t like the comparisons and wished he was in the same company of William Faulkner instead. Even with the great reviews in its time and praise from other great authors, the book never found a big audience and was in and out of print since. Ross was so disappointed in the sales that he stopped writing novels. Ross was one and out, but what a one. It is a shame that he didn’t write more, I really enjoyed this book and can’t imagine what he would have written after this. This takes a poor man who has lost his farm and takes up a job at a roadhouse. There is a lot of troubling things that happen here, gambling, adultery, drinking, theft and eventually murder. The writing is very good and even holds up today. This book is now being printed by the Mysterious Press so it should be fairly easy to find a copy.
If you want to read a cool book that is getting another chance, check it out. This book still isn’t very widely read. It only has 140 ratings on goodreads right now, but is well liked by the ones that have read it. I hope you give this book a chance and find it as good as I did.
3 thoughts on “Review of a Forgotten Classic: They Don’t Dance Much by James Ross”
Oh man, I’ve heard there’s a second James Ross novel that miiiiiiiiiight get published soon and that is great news. THEY DON’T DANCE MUCH stands with the best of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain and is one of my favorites.
That would be great news! Is Mysterious Press working on it?
‘swhat I hear… but you didn’t hear it from me
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