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The Duke Don't Dance - Book Review


Not every book starts perfectly, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Sometimes you've got to eat your veggies to get desert. I'm still a little hungry for sweets after reading Richard Sharp's The Duke Don't Dance, but I don't expect perfection these days - not on Kindle anyway.



If I never mentioned it, I worked for a publisher once and had to wade through piles and piles of manuscripts every day, but sometimes I found stories written humor, usually unintentional.

One of my favorites was about hunters up in the Pacific Northwest. The narrative explained that finally, after days of searching, the hunters saw several deer hiding up in the trees ahead.  Now this was exciting since I had never seen deer climbing trees, but I don’t hunt them too often.
On the other hand, even Stephen King admits that he once sent out an early copy of one of his books to a friend who admonished him for a section that read, “When springtime came, the local hunters rejoiced in their ability to go out and shoot the peasants.”
Sharp's writing is occasionally funny and irreverent, and for those of us who are new to the dance, plenty to learn about the lives of those who breached not just the 60’s but also Vietnam, Watergate, and the malaise of the ‘80’s. However, there is also a disquieting resentment, perhaps misread as smugness by some, of a generation that eventually asks itself, “Where did we go wrong?”
Dance starts at a wake, as a confusing barrage of characters glimpse the life of their passed friend and ponder their own lives, not unlike “The Big Chill,” without, the undertone of fateful fun. In Dance, they leave the funeral disappointed that their own generation, one thrust deeply into a cleft of time between The Greatest Generation and the Boomer Generation, one overlooked and unappreciated, left behind by nature, time, and popular culture, might be remembered as only a Silent Generation.
Author Sharp refuses to be silent, presenting a multi-protagonist story that mingles the culture, feel, and inertia of post W.W. II America through the 60’s and beyond. Characters are deep and satisfying with proven motivation that Sharp uses to set a leisurely pace, never hurrying at the expense of story.
The book is heavy on narration, with lapses into passive writing, but perhaps that’s the whole back-story. And, as the silent, passive generation lived past 1984 and George Orwell didn’t prove to be the all-seeing, all-knowing man behind the curtain, the wheels just fell off.
Now, with the lug nuts on the wheels tightened by the Boomers it is obvious that no generation has all the answers. Maybe Duke Don’t Dance, but you’ll have to read the book to find the multi-layered reasons why.

Thanks for reading - Al W Moe




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