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Tough Guys Don't Dance
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Tough Guys Don't Dance

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  1,600 ratings  ·  92 reviews
" A novel that is as brash and brooding and ultimately as mesmerizing as the author himself...The dazzling balance betwen humor and horror keeps us plunging on....As for characters, each is a gem....It is a book to read with infinite pleasures."
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tim Madden awakes one morning with a gruesome hangover, a painful tatoo on his upper arm, blood all over the p...more
Mass Market Paperback, 373 pages
Published June 12th 1985 by Ballantine Books (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,288)
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Ben Loory
okay, at this point i just flat-out love norman mailer, but his endings are really letting me down. his voice is so wild and burning and furious, so full of madness and spiritual and intellectual yearning, but then somehow his stories always devolve into just a bunch of people sitting around and baldly explaining the story to each other in the least interesting way conceivable. he makes a big show of being an anti-rationalist, but as far as stories go, he's a total realist; all this lip service...more
Mark
I'm not quite sure what to think of this book. It doesn't seem to illustrate Mailer's mastery of language and story telling. His writing does, however, capture quite well the strange, violently surreal, half-paranoid/half-indifferent malaise of hard-core alcoholism. In fact, the whole book reminds me in many ways of a recurring dream I had during my years of dark adventures with the sauce. Also pervasive in the book is a struggle with masculinity, repressed homosexuality, and misogyny tangled up...more
Michael
In a box somewhere I still have all of my Norman Mailer books, with which I have a relationship that can only be called ambivalent. At the time, I thought he was brilliant even while finding much of his work howlingly awful. Often at the same time. (See Harlot's Ghost, a novel that oscillates wildly between great and terrible and that I remember loving beyond all reason.)

Take this novel, which is a typically overwrought take on a noirish thriller and mixes Mailer's usual obsessions (drugs, drink...more
Scott Rhee
I'm a huge Norman Mailer fan.

(As an aside, let me just divulge something here. I have no idea, really, why I have a huge affinity for certain writers that are notoriously misogynistic in nature: Phillip Roth, John Updike, Mailer, to name a few. I don't consider myself a misogynist. I'm actually pretty pro-feminist in my views. So why I like these particular authors, who spend a good portion of their time writing about their sexual exploits and/or odes to their penis is beyond me. Except to say...more
Bill
How did I miss reading Mailer when I was younger? I still haven't read his most acclaimed books, but where were my parents? Well, I guess all the sex, pot, coke, LSD, and violence probably kept them from heralding him to me as a lad. I occasionally get the same feeling I get when reading Thompson, an enjoyable shock accompanied by envy over their prose. I find it hard to make a role model out of someone who had six wives and stabbed one of them, but hey, nobody's perfect.
Wally
Is this where Mailer asks the question, why do gay men congregate in cities with giant phallic monuments? I can't remember.
Barry
First Mailer I've ever tackled. I liked it. Basically a standard murder mystery, with the twist, if it can be called that, of a main protagonist who is an alcoholic sexual sleaze-bag of at times questionable morality. Mailer's skill is evident in that he makes it possible to empathise with this character. A good read.
Ljuke
Mailer comes off like a new-age Raymond Chandler in this confusing, masculine mystery. Because he wrote it quickly to meet a publishing deadline, there is none of the self-indulgence of his other books.
Bill Chamberlain
People say this book lacks plot, and they are correct. People say the characters are unsympathetic & trashy. Also correct. Can’t help but like it, though. Mailer’s prose is engaging.
Joe
a funny, bloody 80s noir with a reprint of updike's long and ridiculous description of a vagina. (which mailer and his character greatly admire.)
Heather
My first Norman Mailer experience and I will be back. A disturbing, but absorbing read about murder, drugs and everything else bad.
Brian Fagan
The plot and characters are ridiculous, but the writing style is great. It's fucking Mailer, man! Weed and decapitated broads!
Andrew
Tough Guys Don't Dance is set in Provincetown during the off-season, when the few natives become inverted and spend most of their time in dark bars. It begins as a pretty straightforward, albeit dark, mystery, but quickly turns surreal and nightmarish as you spend a week of hell with our victim/suspect/murderer(?), as he attempts to piece together just what happened on the night he blacked out drunk and woke up with a tattoo on his arm that reads "Laurel", vague recollections of arguing with his...more
David
Ok, yes. This book has a veneer of misogyny, but truly the real issue here is not a hatred of women but a willful misunderstanding of women. This book’s only concern is masculinity; the women here are presented only as noir femme fatales or gun molls. To take great offence at Mailer's disparaging such mythical creatures is akin to being frustrated at the mischaracterization elves or unicorns. This is the nature of the genre. What made this book worth reading (for me), was the application of Mail...more
Bookcase Jim
I'm fairly indulgent when it comes to reading and have a tough time putting a book down once I start, but given the premise of Tough Guys Don't Dance, it was a real bitch to get through. The writing was good, granted, but somehow it just didn't fit the story, it was all so stileted. The protagonist wasn't memorable, neither were any of the other characters. I finished it (don't remember how it ends), and all I remember is I was greatly disappointed. It was my one and only experience with Mailer....more
Christine
Nov 26, 2008 Christine rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dan and Mike
In general, this book was like pulling teeth...from your vagina. Yup, vagina dentata, which surprisingly, did not make an appearence in Tough Guys. Still, I found the level of misogyny quite satisfactory. I think it's supposed to be satirical? And don't despair, guys, Mailer hasn't forgotten about you; he also explores machismo and homosexuality...so read it if you want to "search the recesses and buried virtues of the modern American male." And who doesn't?
Lorileinart
While not considered to be Mailer's best work, it is nevertheless my favorite. If I could offer this bit of advice: read it like you are watching a black and white film noir movie on a dark and rainy night. It's meant to be digested that way, only you won't get that until you've read it a number of times. Mailer explores marriage, homosexuality, marriage AND homosexuality, among other erotic notions, on the back roads along Cape Cod.
Susan Morris
I gave this murder mystery 4 stars because I think it was skillfully written. It's not for the sensitive though - it's loaded with mature themes, like graphic sex, brutal violence, homophobia and drugs. The author seemed to be striving to push the reader's buttons. If you are a mature adult, read it, then take a shower afterward.
Charles M.
This rather confusing book finishes very fast and surprisingly. Tim Madden wakes up from a drug/alcohol instilled stupor to find that he has a tattoo, and blood all over his car. He then unravels what really happened that "evening before"! Not one of Mailer's best, but certainly keeps your interest during last 100 pages!
Sergio
Lo peor que he leído hasta el momento de Mailer. Cómo un tipo capaz de parir Los Desnudos y los Muertos, o La Canción del Verdugo puede escribir esta novela, es algo que no dejo de preguntarme.

Al principio promete. No sigue los cánones de la novela negra al milímetro. En vez de ceñirse a la trama, el tipo empieza a recrearse en idas de pinza del protagonista, dotándole de un trasfondo que es casi más interesante que el leitmotiv. Sin embargo, conforme avanza la novela, lo que cuenta el protagon...more
Sandra
This is a strange book. I can't even decide if I liked it or not. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down, on the other, I was generally confused by it. Maybe I'll have to have another go at reading it.
Slarson6
I did not know what to expect from Norman Mailer, but now can see his skills. A bit of a twisted murder, with sex and drugs, corupt cops and even mob references. Very good, although a little dated.
Cheri
It wasn't the misogyny, the machismo, or the overblown prose. There is just noir out there that is so much better and more original.
Mathew Wright
This was interesting. I think it's about smoking pot. Honestly, I'm not so sure, though.
Mr
honestly got it because it has one of the best titles ever. decent book
Matt Lundy
wonderful style, first half was more engaging than the second
Ed Mohs
characters at the there most extreme limits
fantastic one liners
Patrick
A very interesting fictional story with a great title.
Tad
As a college kid, I loved it. As an adult... less.
Andrew
Worst hangover ever.
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Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once....more
More about Norman Mailer...
The Naked and the Dead The Executioner's Song An American Dream The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History The Fight

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“Mi resi conto, allora, che l'unico vero collaudo della forza – del tono muscolare, per così dire – della sanità mentale è la capacità di sostenere l'urto di un interrogativo dietro l'altro senza che vi sia neanche l'ombra di una risposta.” 1 likes
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