James Ross

James Ross (1911-1990) was an author of noir fiction. He published They Don’t Dance Much in 1940, and though this hard-bitten story of life and death in a small town roadhouse won acclaim from authors like Raymond Chandler and Flannery O’Connor, it did not sell well.

His follow-up novel, In The Red, was never published, and Ross turned to writing short fiction for magazines like Collier’s, The Sewanee Review and Argosy. In 1970, he became a highly-regarded literary agent, and 1975 saw the reissue of They Don’t Dance Much, which saw the book become truly popular for the first time. Ross died in 1990 in North Carolina.

“A sleazy, corrupt but completely believable story of a North Carolina town.” —Raymond Chandler

“A very fine book.” —Flannery O’Connor

“[Ross] showed us that a writer can come out of the red-clay gulches of rural North Carolina during the Depression—that is, a writer can come out of absolutely anywhere at any time—and make high art without resorting to tricks, stylish ennui or pointless savagery.” —Bill Morris, The Millions

“Ross writes in classically laconic, wised-up American prose. His voice suits then and now and will still carry well tomorrow.” —Daniel Woodrell

“As far as I’m concerned, this book is where dark Southern fiction began, and any writer who works in the field owes Ross a debt of gratitude, whether he or she has read They Don’t Dance Much or not.” —William Gay

“In and out of print since it was first published in 1940, this blistering novel about a rural Carolina roadhouse with a dance floor is packed with enough desperate characters to make murder merely inevitable, but no less horrifying.” —Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

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