They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy

514lByQ1jgL._AC_US436_QL65_Did you know that during the Great Depression of the 1930’s in the US, when people were desperate for ways to make money, a new craze was born – the dance marathon? I didn’t but I found the concept fascinating. Apparently, couples would dance for sometimes weeks at a time and the last couple standing would win a cash prize.

This classic novel first published in 1935 examines the craze and in particular one couple, and the very dark side of their competition. I loved this book. It’s short at 122 pages but there is so much packed in there. Apart from the fascinating details and rules of the competition, we know from the first few pages that something very bad has happened, as the narrator is on trial for murder. He has admitted to it but claims he was doing his victim a personal favour. His victim is Gloria, his dance partner. I couldn’t help comparing Gloria’s life to the competition and the futility of both.

This book draws you in very quickly to the life of manic depressive Gloria and the seediness of the competition and it’s organisers, and the desperation of many of the contestants. I raced through the pages not only wanting to discover more about the competition but the judge’s sentencing is slowly given between chapters, meaning you can’t put the book down you need to keep going to the end, not unlike the dancers.

It is a short book so I won’t give spoilers, I just want to highly recommend it.


4 thoughts on “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – Horace McCoy

  1. I’ve never seen the film or read the book but you’ve made it sound like a worthwhile read. So time to seek it out! It seems like there are modern comparisions to be made the the Touch the Truck competitions preying on desperate people.


  2. Congratulations on a great blog Jennifer! I am always looking for books to add to my never ending tbr pile 😀 I’m Currently reading ‘Ordinary People’ by Diana Evans, really enjoying it.


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