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These are people who do good when they do it from the heart, without expecting anything in return. Looked at in that light, they are the greatest "role models" we could find for our children. And these stories are American history, telling of a time when there were no "social services" and poverty meant hunger and sometimes early, preventable death. Runyon's stories have been collected numerous times, although I've never found a collection that includes them all.

These fifteen stories were hand picked by the great English writer E. This guy knew good stuff when he saw it and he was charmed by Runyon's uniquely American stories.

more than somewhat

Yet he vigorously opposed the idea that non-Americans need to have the vocabulary explained. As he pointed out, the unnamed narrator may not speak the Queen's English, but he's a damned fine communicator and the reader always understands what he's getting at. I've read every Runyon story I could get my hands on and was delighted to find three stories in this collection that were new to me. Apparently he did so and it includes 21 more stories.

I'm prepared to part with a similar sum for the second volume and I hope to be able to do so soon.

A more than somewhat black comedy

If you haven't read Runyon, you don't know what you've missed. Sep 18, Alex Taylor rated it it was ok. More than somewhat underwhelmed by this I am afraid. Mar 11, Mike rated it really liked it Shelves: anthologies , comedy. I've read this book several times, as my parents had a copy. This re-read was initially because I was writing a story in the style of Runyon and wanted to get it right, but I ended up finishing the volume because I was enjoying the stories.

The way a Runyon story generally goes is this: the unnamed and unreliable narrator meets up with some shady characters, and finds out about a way in which someone else has been mistreated. In the end, though, someone, often not the person you'd expect, does I've read this book several times, as my parents had a copy. In the end, though, someone, often not the person you'd expect, does the right thing, to the comfort of the good and the discomfort of the heartless.

It's not just a formula, though. The situations are as varied as the slang, and the characters as vivid as their nicknames. Everything takes place in a relentless present tense, including the dialog. Because this is low life around Broadway in the s, there is considerable casual sexism and indeed racism, though generally the "dolls" women who are mistreated by men end up at least getting avenged, if not avenging themselves.

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Justice, however rough, is generally served. There's a strong sense, though, that tragedy is an everyday thing for the varied characters, and that they seldom expect any better. All in all, a bittersweet mixture of justice and injustice, tragedy and comedy, told in a distinctive and inimitable style.


Oct 01, Viktor rated it it was amazing. My first Runyon, will not be my last. This is not a romanticized version of "Broadway" like some people like to think it is.

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Most folks think of Runyon when they think of the musical "Guys and Dolls". What lighthearted fun! However, on the page, the narrator is a complete jerk, and his acquaintances are horrible people. He's a horrible person. Runyon does not shy away from this.

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So forget the Sinatra. Read the work. Not the collection of lighthearted stories I expected. It's far My first Runyon, will not be my last. It's far better. Sep 28, Nils Andersson rated it it was amazing. This book is simply excellent. The style is one of a kind, with the Runyon-ese setting the perfect stage for a set of short stories based on rather shady prohibition-era Brooklyn characters.

I have not enjoyed a book as much as this in a long time. Certainly more than somewhat! It is a masterpiece worth its weight in potatoes. Dec 30, Jerry OConnor added it. Must read Damon Runyon is in a class by himself. Do not miss this reprint of humor from f days gone by. Well, while I am thinking all this over, and wondering what is to be done, in pops a doll of maybe forty odd, who is built from the ground up, but who has a nice, kind-looking pan, with a large smile, and behind her is a guy I can see at once is a croaker, especially as he is packing a little black bag, and has a grey goatee.

I never see a nicer-looking doll if you care for middling-old dolls, although personally I like them young, and when she sees me with my eyes open, she speaks as follows:. But," she says, "here is Doctor Diffingwell, and he will see how badly you are injured. My name is Miss Amelia Bodkin, and this is my house, and this is my own bedroom, and I am very, very sorry you are hurt. Well, naturally I consider this a most embarrassing situation, because here I am out to clip Miss Amelia Bodkin of her letters and her silverware, including her Paul Revere teapot, and there she is taking care of me in first-class style, and saying she is sorry for me.

But there seems to be nothing for me to say at this time, so I hold still while the croaker looks me over and after he peeks at my noggin, and gives me a good feel up and down, he states as follows:. But Miss Amelia Bodkin will not listen to such an idea as moving me to a hospital. Miss Amelia Bodkin says I must rest right where I am, and she will take care of me, because she says I am injured on her premises by her gatepost, and it is only fair that she does something for me.

In fact, from the way Miss Amelia Bodkin takes on about me being moved, I figure maybe it is the old sex appeal, although afterwards I find out it is only because she is lonesome, and nursing me will give her something to do. Well, naturally I am not opposing her idea, because the way I look at it, I will be able to handle the situation about the letters, and also the silverware, very nicely as an inside job, so I try to act even worse off than I am, although of course anybody who knows about the time I carry eight slugs in my body from Broadway and Fiftieth Street to Brooklyn will laugh very heartily at the idea of a cut on the noggin keeping me in bed.

After the croaker gets through sewing me up, and goes away, I tell Spanish John to take Educated Edmund and Little Isadore and go on back to New York, but to keep in touch with me by telephone, so I can tell them when to come back, and then I go to sleep, because I seem to be very tired. When I wake up later in the night, I seem to have a fever, and am really somewhat sick, and Miss Amelia Bodkin is sitting beside my bed swabbing my noggin with a cool cloth, which feels very pleasant, indeed. I am better in the morning, and am able to knock over a little breakfast which she brings to me on a tray, and I am commencing to see where being an invalid is not so bad, at that, especially when there are no coppers at your bedside every time you open your eyes asking who does it to you.

I can see Miss Amelia Bodkin gets quite a bang out of having somebody to take care of, although of course if she knows who she is taking care of at this time, the chances are she will be running up the road calling for the gendarmes. It is not until after breakfast that I can get her to go and grab herself a little sleep, and while she is away sleeping the old guy who seems to be the butler is in and out of my room every now and then to see how I am getting along. He is a gabby old guy, and pretty soon he is telling me all about Miss Amelia Bodkin, and what he tells me is that she is the old-time sweetheart of a guy in New York who is at the head of a big business, and very rich, and of course I know this guy is Mr.

Jabez Tuesday, although the old guy who seems to be the butler never mentions his name. I know, because I am with them almost from the start," the old guy says. Then," the old guy says, "I can see he is getting away from her, although she never sees it herself, and I am not surprised when a few years ago he convinces her it is best for her to retire from active work, and move out to this spot. Well," the old guy says, "it is just such a case as often comes up in life. In fact, I personally know of some others. But Miss Amelia Bodkin still thinks he loves her, and that only business keeps him away so much, so you can see she either is not as smart as she looks, or is kidding herself.

Well," the old guy says, "I will now bring you a little orange-juice, although I do not mind saying you do not look to me like a guy who drinks orange-juice as a steady proposition. Now I am taking many a gander around the bedroom to see if I can case the box of letters that Mr. Jabez Tuesday speaks of, but there is no box such as he describes in sight. Then in the evening, when Miss Amelia Bodkin is in the room, and I seem to be dozing, she pulls out a drawer in the bureau, and hauls out a big inlaid box, and sits down at a table under a reading-lamp, and opens this box and begins reading some old letters.

And as she sits there reading those letters, with me watching her through my eyelashes, sometimes she smiles, but once I see little tears rolling down her cheeks. All of a sudden she looks at me, and catches me with my eyes wide open, and I can see her face turn red, and then she laughs, and speaks to me, as follows:.

Am I not foolish and sentimental to do such a thing?

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Well, I tell Miss Amelia Bodkin she is sentimental all right, but I do not tell her just how foolish she is to be letting me in on where she plants these letters, although of course I am greatly pleased to have this information. I tell Miss Amelia Bodkin that personally I never write a love letter, and never get a love letter, and in fact, while I hear of these propositions, I never even see a love letter before, and this is all as true as you are a foot high.

Then Miss Amelia Bodkin laughs a little, and says to me as follows:. Why," she says, "I think I will read you a few of the most wonderful love letters in this world. It will do no harm," she says, "because you do not know the writer, and you must lie there and think of me, not old and ugly, as you see me now, but as young, and maybe a little bit pretty. So Miss Amelia Bodkin opens a letter and reads it to me, and her voice is soft and low as she reads, but she scarcely ever looks at the letter as she is reading, so I can see she knows it pretty much by heart.

Furthermore, I can see that she thinks this letter is quite a masterpiece, but while I am no judge of love letters, because this is the first one I ever hear, I wish to say I consider it nothing but great nonsense. Darling," it says, "I love the colour of your hair. I am so glad you are not a blonde. I hate blondes, they are so emptyheaded, and mean, and deceitful. Also they are bad-tempered," the letter says. Business is improving," it says. I love you now and always, my baby doll.

Well, there are others worse than this, and all of them speak of her as sweetheart, or baby, or darlingest one, and also as loveykins, and precious, and angel, and I do not know what all else, and several of them speak of how things will be after they marry, and as I judge these are Mr.