So I am thinking: It is my 1686[sup]th[/sup] post and I should be doing something special with it. And it come to me: I cannot be the only mug (or doll, 'though I am clearly not a doll) on this board what loves Damon Runyon.
Even though his writings are sadly forgotten nowdays, in his day he is a giant.
His stories, though film and stage, live on “Little Miss Marker”, “Guys and Dolls”, these are only two of the many films what take themselves from his work. But these just touch the surface of this guy’s writings.
His authorial voice is clear and strong, his characters memorable and funny and touching and his style, (he knows nothing but present tense) unique. Runyon’s prose is brilliant:
The only problem with Runyon’s writings is I have to go and get a dictionary of slang as his slang is occasionally incomprehensible to me. “Needled Beer”? (It turns out that needled beer is a way what a bartender does to add alcolhol to non-alcholohic beer through the cork during the Depression). “Hop Joint”? (Remember he is writing in the '20s through '40s so he is not writing of Heroin. A hop joint is a beer seller during Prohibition). But for me this just is added character to his work.
Anyway, is there anyone else on the SDMB what is wanting to talk about how good Runyon’s writing is?
Popping in to say that the “manhattan” entry in Fenris’s Origins of the Mods epic reminded me of how much I’d always liked the dialogue in “Guys and Dolls” and inspired me to check a bunch of Runyon stuff out of the library. I got very into it. Yummy words. Count me as a fan, but one who still has much to read.
We all had to ignore the guy slumped in the corner with lead poisoning. He was ventilated in ways that only an air conditioner could appreciate.
This gal had legs longer than a holiday sermon, and I drew in a breath so sharp you could slice tomatoes on it. Faster than you could say “knife” she had something in her hand, and it wasn’t a lipstick. I felt my way through this maze like a blind man in a debauched Twister game.
Suddenly it all came back to me like a ton of unscraped bricks!
It was New Years and I had forgotten the special fraternity password…
Damon Runyon was indeed quite a writer, as well as an all around swell guy, but he did go sticking his nose in things that noses maybe shouldn’t be stuck in. For instance, once I was sitting in Mindy’s with some gentlemen of my acquantaince. Now, one of those guys, who we shall call Harry the Horse, was informing us of certain problems he was having with a certain dame, because the aforementioned dame had heard that Harry was spending time with another dame. Now, I happen to know that this other dame was merely taking singing lessons, and Harry, of course, having a beautiful voice, was giving this other dame private lessons. Now, Harry’s dame, unfortunately, has very little appreciation for singing, so she was not quite understanding of Harry’s generous nature. So, as Harry was telling us all this when we saw Damon in a neighboring booth scribbling in his notebook. Of course, we knew he would not be so impolite as to listen to the things we was saying, but still, we decided it would be best to take our leave. However, in spite of Damon Runyon’s nose, he was still a swell guy.
I too am a very big Damon Runyon fan. As a journalist and a southern Coloradan, I almost have to be. I seldom miss the presentation of the Damon Runyon Award by the Denver Press Club, I often watch baseball games down at Damon Runyon Field and when I am called upon to go to Pueblo, Colorado for a stay, I regularly stay in the Damon Runyon Suite of the Abriendo Inn not far from where he grew up.
His fiction stories are delightful. The characters are so real (even while being unbelievable). My favorites are from “Broadway Stories.”
There is also a great collection of his articles in which he covered the great trials of his day. I think it is called “The Trials of Damon Runyon.” He could make a trial sound like a national league baseball game.
I just finished reading a wonderful biography of the man called “Gentleman of Broadway”. I highly recommend it. I’m not sure where I put it so I can’t tell you who the author is, but if I find it I will repost. It is out of print however, so I had to do an out of print search to find it.
His buddy Gene Fowler also regularly mentioned the “Demon”, as his writing friends used to call him, in his writings. He is a major player in Fowler’s “Skyline.”
Yous has got good taste to digest such a scribe as this guy which is as good as any which has written, Fenris.