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They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Midnight Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
Written in the style of 1930s pulp fiction, the novel essentially presents both characters and Marathon Dance as a metaphor for a world in which those without money and social status struggle for survival with the only certainty in life being death itself--and whose struggle becomes a vicarious entertainment for the more secure. Although the novel is extremely short, it presents the reader with a powerful and very memorable series of images, most of which were well used by the famous 1960s Jane Fonda film version.
Powerful though it is, the novel does have some flaws, chief among them McCoy's failure to fully expand upon his metaphor of the Marathon Dance and his tendency to introduce additional ideas upon which he never really expands; the characters also read as rather flat. Even so, THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY's central concept and hard-edged prose is so impressive that the book possesses a compulsive readability; it is very much a book that you can't put down. Recommended.
By novel's end the couples have been dancing for almost 900 hours, with only a ten minute break every two hours. The 144 couples who started have dwindled down to twenty. Many dropped out early, but many more have been eliminated in the frantic derby races that were instituted to draw in crowds. When dancers merely pass out, which they frequently do, they are awakened with smelling salts or ice baths and pushed right back onto the floor. But times are so bad that Robert has actually put on five pounds during the ordeal--meals are supplied for free--and most of the other contestants have gained weight too.
He's content to keep going, hoping that he'll be "discovered" by one of the film world glitterati attending the marathon or that he can use the prize money to direct a picture of his own. But Gloria is completely fatalistic :
This whole business is a merry-go-round. When we get out of here we're right back where we started.
She tries convincing one of the other dancers, who is pregnant, to get an abortion, for the good of the baby, and she continually tells Robert that she wishes she were dead. Suffice it to say she gets her wish.
We tend to want to view our grandparents as having led sheltered lives, unaware of all the oh-so-tough realities that we face so honestly today.Read more ›
The film version, starring Jane Fonda, of this novel does not accurately portray the bleakness of the setting and the desperation of the characters. Horace McCoy gives the reader no sunshine or hope. But such was life for millions during the Depression.
Bottom line: a condensed masterpiece that packs a punch.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing that both the novel and screenplay were in the book! Great, quick delivery...huge thanks!Published 4 months ago by Scott Johnson
Great American classic, to bad most people will never hear about it or read it, in the USA everyone is supposed to be happy to be alive even if you are poor, have no prospects,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Linda M. Slobodnyak
There is much between the lines of this novel. It conveys the cruel indifference of the dance marathon craze against the desperation of depression-era Los Angeles. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Pamela S. Simone
Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ contains one of the bleakest line in all of literature. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great story depicting life in America during our dark days of financial crisis.Published 17 months ago by Carol
interesting idea, but didn't gel. i get that the dance marathon is a metaphor for the struggle of surviving society and the depression. Read morePublished 17 months ago by hm
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They is a novel that speaks to our times: we are inundated with reality shows, where fame and fortune, tragedy and despair are brought to us on a whim and... Read morePublished 19 months ago by fra7299
I've heard about this book for ages! Didn't see the movie....it looked depressing at the time. Little did I know that there were other books even MORE depressing- like The Road. Read morePublished 19 months ago by G. E. Melone