CAN'T DANCE by Max Crawford


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Crawford returns from his recent tour of genre fiction (Lords of the Plain, Six Key Cut) to the smoky, boozy, shaggy world of his first and best-known novel, Waltz Across Texas, with uneven results--producing a flip, casually obscene, occasionally violent idyll about the aftermath of a Texas all-star high-school football game. The story is presented as a series of games, beginning with the umpteenth all-star game (""I thought maybe we were West or North. Can't keep these fucking games straight anymore"") that brings together Crawford's three heroes: Noel Sherry, an end from Shamrock with a bum knee and a magic toe; Black Blackstock, an enormous, truculent end from Commanche; and Russell McDermitt, or Chummy, an affable fullback who's turned down 116 offers to play for Texas Tech. The haze of chat in the locker room, on the field, and at a dance continues as the scene shifts to Lubbock, where Chummy's morn-and-pop bootlegging operation runs disastrously afoul of the big boys; to Austin, where mysterious private-eye Del Mayes lures Noel to Mexico to bail Chummy out of jail; to Mexico, where Mayes tells Noel he's actually been hired to cripple him; and finally to Houston, where Noel plays one last game for Rice. Despite the stream of incident--gambling, kidnapping, murder, and too many lesser felonies to count--Crawford's dreamlike prose keeps everything remote, like a beer can under glass, so that nothing seems to matter either to the characters or the reader any more than that first inconsequential all-star game. Crawford has style to burn, and burn it he does--in a lazy novel that's really a series of good-old-boy riffs.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1989
Publisher: Atheneum