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Tough Guys Don’t Dance. New York: Random House, 20 August; London: Michael Joseph, 15 October. Novel, 229 pp., $16.95.

A signed, leather-bound edition appeared simultaneously carrying a one-page preface, “A Special Message for the First Edition by Norman Mailer,” and accompanied by his poem about Provincetown, “The Harbors of the Moon,” from Deaths for the Ladies (and Other Disasters) (62.3). Franklin Center, Pa.: Franklin Library, $75.

Dedication: “To Scott Meredith.” The dustwrapper photograph is by Mailer’s Provincetown neighbor, Joel Meyerowitz. Rpt: Lengthy advance excerpts appeared in Vanity Fair (84.4, 84.7); brief ones in USA Today (84.10), New York Times Book Review (84.11), Time (84.13) and Los Angeles Herald Examiner (84.15); 98.7 (partial). The novel climbed to number four on the New York Times Book Review bestseller list on 30 September. See other 1984 entries and, for comment on the film version of the novel, see 1986 and 1987 entries.



  • Amis, Martin (October 1984). "Review of Tough Guys Don't Dance". Observer. Mixed. Rpt: In Amis’s The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971–2000, 267–72. London: Jonathan Cape, 2001.
  • Campbell, James (October 19, 1984). "From Dream to Dread". Times Literary Supplement. Negative.
  • Crews, Harry (August 6, 1984). "Mailer Turns Mystery Writer, with Exciting Results". St. Petersburg Times. 6D. Positive.
  • Donoghue, Denis (July 29, 1984). "Death on the Windy Dunes". New York Times Book Review. pp. 1, 32–33. Mi
  • Higgins, George V. (August 13, 1984). "Nightmare Alley". New York. pp. 53–54. Mixed.
  • Manning, Margaret (August 5, 1984). "From Mailer, A Little Mayhem in P-town". Boston Globe. Sec. B. p. 11. Negative.
  • Monaghan, Charles (August 9, 1984). "Mailer's Detective Story". Wall Street Journal. Positive.
  • Ricks, Christopher (October 18–31, 1984). "Rectum". London Review of Books. p. 15. Positive.
  • Rovit, Earl (September 18, 1984). "The Ropewalker". Nation. pp. 213–215. Negative.


  • Busa, Christopher (2013). "Mailer's Tough Guys: Novelist Invites His Characters to Dance". Mailer Review. 7: 245–250.
  • Duguid, Scott (2010). "From Egypt to Provincetown, By Trump Air: Modernist History and the Return of the Repressed in Ancient Evenings and Tough Guys Don't Dance". In Whalen-Bridge, John. Norman Mailer's Later Fictions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 15–33.
  • Glenday, Michael (1995). Norman Mailer. London: Macmillan.
  • Howley, Ashton (2006). "Mailer Again: Heterophobia in Tough Guys Don't Dance". Journal of Modern Literature. 30 (fall): 30–46.
  • Merrill, Robert (1992). "Tough Guys Don't Dance and the Detective Tradition". Norman Mailer Revisited. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 191–207. ISBN 080573967X.
  • Ryan, James Emmet (2010). "Mailer and the 'Diet of Reality': Tough Guys Don't Dance and American Values". In Whalen-Bridge, John. Norman Mailer's Later Fictions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 35–51.