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.
After she left, there was a week when the weather never shifted. One chill morose November sky went into another. The place turned gray before one’s eyes. Back in summer, the population had been thirty thousand and doubled on weekends. It seemed as if every vehicle on Cape Cod chose to drive down the four-land state highway that ended at our beach. Provincetown was as colorful then as St. Tropez, and as dirty by Sunday evening as Coney Island. In the fall, however, with everyone gone, the town revealed its other presence. Now the population did not boil up daily from thirty thousand to sixty, but settled down to its honest sediment, three thousand souls, and on empty weekday afternoons you might have said the true number of inhabitants must be thirty men and women, all hiding. There could be no other town like it. If you were sensitive to crowds, you might expire in summer from human propinquity. On the other hand, if you were unable to endure loneliness, the vessel of your person could fill with dread during the long winter. (87.17)