They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

by Horace McCoy

So I have never seen the film version of this, so excuse me if this is obvious popular culture, but, given the title, and the fact that I found this in a crime novel compendium, I was quite shocked that this was about a dance marathon.  I have never heard of a dance marathon outside of the Gilmore Girls (episode “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?”  Wow, that makes sense now.).  But this book, though 98% about a dance marathon, is really 0% about a dance marathon.  The dance marathon could be excluded from the book and it could be as effective as it currently is.  In fact, this would make an awesome short story.  It reminds me of a joke, since the title is also the punchline, one that won’t really make sense until a page before it ends.

This book walks a fine line between “existentialist” and “pointless.”  I don’t know what I am supposed to have gotten out of it.  It was a very fast read and I felt like it was going somewhere, but at the end you know as much as in the beginning.  So I guess I am just so-so about the book.


  1. Kasey says:

    So we were going through that Myspace thing where you substitute a word in the movie title. And of course that word was vagina. The best one anyone came up with was “They Shoot Vaginas, Don’t They?”

  2. Mary says:

    I watched the film version when I was 10 or 11. Young Mary really liked it, although I think she did not understand why Jane Fonda was having sex with Gig Young.

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