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Guys and Dolls and Other Writings (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 27, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; annotated edition edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186726
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Buy this book and if you don't like it, check your pulse.
J. Sieger
I love the musical -- it's always been one of my favorites, in all aspects, characters, plot, music, etc -- and Runyon's book is that much more enjoyable.
Elaine Gere
Stories on the printed page are capable of more subtlety than visual stories.
Harry Eagar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Harry Eagar VINE VOICE on November 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Readers who know Damon Runyon only through his Broadway stories may think that he was a writer of shtick. Good shtick, but shtick. This Penguin collection shows that not to be the case.

Right from the start, when he was under 30, Runyon could write a good running story, although he was nearly 50 before he began writing fiction regularly. He seems to have found his Broadway voice right off the bat when he began writing the Guys and Dolls stories in 1929. Although he ground out nearly a story a month for Collier's, the quality remained high. He never seems to have rushed or to have tossed one off.

But as this collection shows, something dark happened to Runyon's fiction as time went by. It is sometimes claimed that a thoughtful editor's selection can change the way readers value a writer. This supposedly happened when the Viking Portable Faulkner rescued William Faulkner from relegation to a place as an oddball failure.

It is not stated who made the selections in this 2008 collection, the latest of many, but presumably Professor Daniel Schwartz had a big hand in it. I cannot say I think much of his commentary, which sounds at times as if he didn't read the stories. At least, while I hear the Yiddish slang in the Broadway stories, I don't hear the Italian that Schwartz says is so prevalent. Some of his other comments seem equally off base.

However, by arranging the Broadway stories in order of publication (for the practical reason that the characters recur and need to be properly introduced, he says), and by including very early stories, it becomes obvious that Runyon's plots got more violent over time.

Many, perhaps most of his stories were reworkings of news events -- the shootings of gamblers, kidnappings etc.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Sieger on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Damon Runyon's narrator calls someone a "curly wolf" in one these stories. I have no idea what this means, but I will remember it for a long time. I imagine a curly wolf is not a good thing to be, as many of his characters have character issues. He may have made this term up, along with others like "the old phonus bolonus." Either way, about two stories in, I asked myself, "Where has this guy been all my life?" I can't believe I went as long as I did without these hilarious and touching stories. Buy this book and if you don't like it, check your pulse.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eric Oppen on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was looking for a complete, unabridged collection of the "Broadway" stories of Damon Runyon---the ones they based the musical "Guys and Dolls" on. This comes close, but isn't quite complete---I know of at least one story ("Lonely Heart") that isn't present, and there may be others.

Even so, it's got a good, solid selection of them, and is a good selection for someone who wants to get acquainted with the unique voice of Damon Runyon. His unique style has become so iconic in its way that I've seen it used (in, among other places, the comic book _Wolff and Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre_) to indicate that the speaker is an underworld type.

Apart from missing at least a few stories, the only other nit I can find to pick is that the typeface is smaller and finer than I care for. But that's just me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Gere on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Damon Runyon has a wonderful formula that really doesn't grow old. His stories, some of which formed the basis for the musical, Guys and Dolls, are clever, witty, insightful, timeless, and just plain wonderful writing. I love the musical -- it's always been one of my favorites, in all aspects, characters, plot, music, etc -- and Runyon's book is that much more enjoyable. Highly recommend for escape, but with substance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rudyard on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Damon Runyon's stories are brilliant - for those of us who like them. If you do, this is a great book except that it's missing a few stories, and one wonders why the collection couldn't have been more complete.
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