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Guys and Dolls

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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  477 ratings  ·  53 reviews
You can count on Guys and Dolls being revived at least once every ten years, and on and on, probably as long as there is an America. For the stories of Damon Runyon, from which came what many authorities think is the greatest musical ever created, are as American as apple pie. You'll savor the spice and richness in these thirty-two tales, a perfect sampler of the Runyon ge ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published November 1st 1992 by Penguin Books (first published 1932)
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Jim Vuksic
There are only three authors whose anthology of short stories I ever really enjoyed and recommended that others read. They were William Sydny Porter (Pen Name: O. Henry), Ray Bradbury, and Damon Runyon.

O. Henry wrote about children, the poor, and the good in almost everyone. Bradbury wrote science fiction, and Runyon wrote about the Broadway of the Roaring Twenties and Gangster era of the nineteen thirties; most famously recounted in the thirty-two short-stories that make up the anthology, "Guys
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Elisabeth
3.5 stars. This is one of those occasional cases where the writing style is really the most notable and entertaining thing about the stories: the deadpan narration and dialect, and the way humor is derived from every variation of crook and "character" on Broadway and around the racetracks—mainly by serious, almost naïve-sounding understatements regarding their tempers and pursuits. (Once you've read a certain amount of these stories, you'll find yourself thinking in present tense.) Some of the s ...more
Punk
Short Stories. After you read two or three of these, you know exactly what to expect from the rest of them. You start out with your unnamed narrator, who either gets invited along on a caper or sits next to a guy who has a story to tell him. There's lots of gangsters, betting on horses, heartbreak and/or romance, and then comes your twist ending. The plots are simplistic, like Encyclopedia Brown meets Henry O; you can see the twist coming every time, but these stories are mostly about the langu ...more
April Helms
This was actually a collection from three short story collections: Guys and Dolls, Blue Plate Special and Money From Home (so I'm hoping I am entering this in the right book slot). Runyon's stories inspired (among other things) the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls. This collection contains numerous short stories on such colorful characters like Dave the Dude, Rusty Charlie, Benny Southstreet, The Brain, Good Time Charley, Nathan Detroit, Big Jule and many others. Most of the stories are darkly hu ...more
Cleo
Guys and Dolls is the collective name for these short stories, which I believe were made into a musical and a musical-movie. Guys and Dolls takes place in New York in the 1920s and 30s, on Broadway, sort of an underground, gambling, semi-illegal world. There are many interesting characters in this book, such as Nathan Detroit, Sky Masterson, and of course, Nicely-Nicely Jones.

The atmosphere and ambience of the world this book is set in feels very alien, so different from today. Many of the stori
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Sam Pryce
I read this collection as "background research" whilst playing Nathan Detroit in the musical. Sadly, Nathan only features in a few stories as a minor character but reading this gave a broader understanding of the New York dialect and the morally bereft behaviour of the characters.

Stylistically, Runyon writes as an unnamed narrator who tells the story as though he's a lifelong friend of yours, providing dry, witty asides here and there. Substance-wise, it's a little predictable but amiably so. A
...more
Dxmaniac69
Though I expect alot of people don't even remember the musical Guys and Dolls or the film Little Miss Marker, I do. If you do remember these adaptations of Damon Runyon's works, after reading the book you will also remember how Hollywood hates to do an accurate thematic adaptation. Honestly, Hollywood has gotten better about their adaptations in recent years.

For example, Little Miss Marker was a cute film with Shirly Temple. The short story is a tragedy with some dark humor mixed in. And there c
...more
Sammy
This collection of short stories brings a smile to my face, just because you have seen the film don't think you know what the book is about. Five stars may seem a lot but by the end of every story my face was lit up because they are just charming.

I need to read Runyon's other short story collections.
Emily
It was fun to read this play. I don’t understand how the play can run for so long when my copy was only about 80 pages. But I don’t know much about plays in general - I just know I like musicals!
Deb
My copy of this book is the one that belonged to my grandfather, who died in the late 40s. Runyon is an extremely undervalued writer, IMHO, one of the New Yorker writers who helped sell the magazine but isn't revered the way the other New Yorker writers are. Is it because his characters are obviously lower class? Not taxi riding tennis players like Holden Caulfield? Or is it that lots of this stuff went to Broadway and the movies (Lemon Drop Kid, Apple Annie, Little Miss Marker, Guys and Dolls.) ...more
David
A typical story in this collection is framed by an encounter of the nameless narrator with someone in Mindy's deli. The plot twist is rarely much of a surprise. But oh, the juice is in the telling, with obscure bits of slang (some of which Runyon must have invented himself) and paragraph-long litotes-laden sentences that double back on themselves to comic effect. Runyon manages to tell a tale in nested flashbacks using nothing but the present tense. The stories are both more violent and funnier ...more
Neil
Odd that as famous a name should be so hard to find here. I don't know if the term 'Runyonesque' has disappeared from the language, but if so, it's a shame. No-one ever summed-up the place and the period as perfectly...and his stories are as delightful now as they were back then.
The key, of course, is his use of language and idiom, and by the time you've finished this, you'll be talking like Nicely-nicely Johnson! His style is like a gentle Philip Marlowe, and a grittier Bertie Wooster. Not muc
...more
Kat
Basic plot: The oldest established, permanent floating crap game in New York needs a location, and Nathan Detroit will literally do anything to get it, including betting a notorious high roller that he can't get a date with a religious mission worker. Hilarity ensues.

This was one of my favorite performances back in high school, and I've also helped put it on now that I'm a teacher. It's a great show with lots of fun songs and great comedic opportunities. Everyone has a great time with this one,
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Leslie
Guys and Dolls is my all-time-favorite musical, and I love the collection of short stories on which it is based. Reading these stories is a helluva good time. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to go out and buy a checkered suit ...

Now if you'll excuse me, my school is performing G & D as the spring musical in about 15 minutes, so I gotta head to the auditorium to watch my very talented students in the roles of Sarah Brown, Sky Masterson, Nathan Detroit, Nicely-Nicely ... whatever his nam
...more
Maura
I was predisposed to like this, being a big fan of the musical based on them. And these short stories did not disappoint (excluding the fact that I couldn't find a mention of Miss Adelaide anywhere! What's up with that?) I liked the turns of phrase and "wise guy" stylings that his first-person narrator uses (tho i spread out reading this collection over a few weeks -- perhaps reading them all at once it would have gotten old). I like the humor, I like the mini-mysteries that get set up, I like i ...more
Kathryn French
I have never really liked the musical Guys and Dolls, but these short stories are wonderful. Short stories are already my favorite form, as they get to the point quickly and have tight construction. These stories are all great, every one with a twist at the end. I found myself wanting to read them aloud to somebody just for the joy of the language. Now I have to watch the musical again and see if I get more out of it.
captain america
its tempting to read story after story but they're too alike to do so without a break inbetween. the plotlines are no big deal but his effective economy with words is stunning and makes me want to never write another sentence for the rest of my life. i laugh aloud every story.
the tough-guy jargon of the narrators is wonderful. and catching. lately i've been calling all my female friends "dolls"...
Timo
Jun 20, 2012 Timo marked it as to-read
I started reading the first tale, and the style stuck out like a purple thumb: Runyon seems obsessed with run-on sentences, in the manner of a caffeine addict who loathes periods -- or even the ellipsis -- for fear that any pause in his speech will allow someone else to get a word in edgewise or endo. It seems to be an accurate mimicking of an actual speech pattern, but it doesn't induce me to read on.
Rosemary
I went to a top-notch production of Guys and Dolls last week and the artistic director of the theater said the most appalling thing: that most of the people in the audience had probably never heard of Damon Runyon. Oh, tis enough to make a doll despair, or at least develop a cold.

This is one of the great masters of American humor and I'll stake him in a crap game against Mark Twain any time.
Matt
Runyon is the rare author that seems to be able to break a lot of conventional writing rules. His characters are pretty generic, his stories focus heavily on irony, he uses little dialogue and a lot of exposition. But the voice he writes in is so amazing, it makes up for all that. I'm always up for a story about lowlives and the women that break their hearts.
Erin
If you like the happy-go-lucky musical & movie Guys & Dolls and are expecting the same here, you might be surprised by the dark edge of many of the stories. They are, after all, about criminals.

Overall, Runyon is very funny and great at ending his stories with a final twist or jab you (usually) don't see coming. Good bedtime reading.
Andrew
Seen the film? Well the stories are better. The characters leap out at you, take your money and leave you for dead. The lilt and language of this cityscape conjures up a world normally obscured by melodrama or prejudice. The poetry is as much a precursor of Dylan's storytelling as anything by Hank Williams.
Joe
"the lemon drop kid" is a fast-paced story of romance and adventure on long island in the roaring 20's. this is the only one i read from the anothology (so far), but it was a lot of fun, and well done. a little corny at times, but it worked. i took it in as the audio dramatized version available from audible.com.
Lauren
Jan 14, 2008 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: New Yorkers.
Recommended to Lauren by: Dadoo
Shelves: fiction, favorites
This was actually a re-read of the book, which I read when I was much younger. Only the first story has anything to do with the musical whatsoever; that said, the musical retained much of the feel of the stories, which were enjoyable, entertaining, and occasionally very touching. Read in a "Brooklyn accent."
Meghan
Damon Runyon is nothing less than our American P. G. Wodehouse, and if there is any higher compliment I can be paying him it is not coming to me at this precise moment, but if it is striking me sometime in the future I will not hesitate to edit it in, as I am not wishing to understate the matter.
Maureen
since i've never seen the film version of guys and dolls i can't say whether the alterations to this collection would make it more interesting or familiar to somebody who had seen the film. stand out stories for me in this collection are: "lillian", and "the brain goes home".
Rebecca
Jan 03, 2009 Rebecca marked it as to-read
I've loved the movie "Guys and Dolls" (based on a story from this book) for years, and I'm doing a production of it @ school right now. I don't think there's any better way to get to know Sarah (my character) than to read the original.
First Second Books
Damon Runyon is awesome! These stories read like the wayward gangster offspring of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence and Nero Wolfe's Archie Goodwin. You can't get much better than that. It is difficult to tell what color it is.
John
Not as much fun as I thought it would be. The style in particular ended up being quite grating. Probably better in small does as, of course, originally intended. Interesting to see the derivation of the musical though.
Stephanie
Dec 18, 2009 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: New Yorkers
Recommended to Stephanie by: Alec
Such fun language! This collection of stories makes me want to wander the theatre district and bet on the horses. Both activities in which I am not usually inclined to participate. It must a good book.
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Alfred Damon Runyon (October 4, 1880 – December 10, 1946) was an American newspaperman and writer.

Damon Runyon was born as Alfred Damon Runyan to a family of newspapermen in Manhattan, Kansas. His grandfather was a newspaper printer from New Jersey who had relocated to Manhattan, Kansas in 1855, and his father was editor of his own newspaper in the town. In 1882 Runyon's father was forced to sell
...more
More about Damon Runyon...
On Broadway The Best of Damon Runyon From First to Last More Than Somewhat The Bloodhounds of Broadway and Other Stories

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