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Sandy dozen: 12 site-specific beach reads

By: Matt Hickman on May 25, 2011, 7:12 a.m.
red boat on water, houses in background

Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation

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Provincetown, Mass.

Book: "Tough Guys Don’t Dance" by Norman Mailer (1984)

Perfect page-turning locale: Provincetown, Mass.

Publisher’s description: “A dark, brilliant novel of astonishing pitch, set in Provincetown, a ‘spit of shrub and dune’ captured here in the rawness and melancholy of the off-season, ‘Tough Guys Don’t Dance’ is the story of Tim Madden, an unsuccessful writer addicted to bourbon, cigarettes, and blonde, careless women with money. On the twenty-fourth morning after the decampment of his wife, Patty Lareine, he awakens with a hangover, considerable sexual excitement, and, on his upper arm, a red tattoo bearing a name from the past. Of the night before, he remembers practically nothing. What he soon learns is that the front passenger seat of his Porsche is soaked with blood and that in a secluded corner of his marijuana stash in a nearby woods rests a blonde head, severed at the throat.”

Afterword: While not one of Norman Mailer’s more famous works, this fun, lurid potboiler written late in Mailer’s career is much more beach-appropriate than, let’s say, “The Executioner’s Song.” Plus, it takes place in the beach-tastic fishing village of Provincetown, Mailer’s former residence, final resting place and home to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony.