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Guys and Dolls

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4.1  ·  Rating details ·  648 Ratings  ·  71 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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Teeritz Yes, but the vernacular can take a while to get used to, but once you get into the rhythm of the language, it's a wonderful book of short stories.…moreYes, but the vernacular can take a while to get used to, but once you get into the rhythm of the language, it's a wonderful book of short stories. Some of them a quite touching, too. Tell your young teen to read it again when they're fifty. They'll love it. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jim Vuksic
Jan 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
Brian
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Guys and Dolls, the stories of Damon Runyon” is a unique collection of short stories, and I have not come across anything quite like it in my reading life. Mr. Runyon’s writing style is distinctive, and unlike any other I have encountered. Like Shakespeare, the more of it you read, the more use to it you become. The collection’s stories are all told from a 1st person unnamed narrator’s perspective about the people he knows/meets in the midtown neighborhood of Broadway. All of the stories were w ...more
Bob Schnell
While I have been familiar with Damon Runyon as a famous New York character and the writer for such films as "Guys and Dolls", "Little Miss Marker" and "Pocketful of Miracles"/"Lady for a Day" I had never really read his original works. "Guys and Dolls and Other Writings" puts it all together in one volume and it gave me many hours of joy and amusement. It got to the point where I started tawking like some of da citizens what occupied the pages (just for fun). The short stories that make up "The ...more
Marti
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are one of those people who loves reading about Prohibition-era New York, you will find the "Broadway Stories" highly amusing. Yes, the plots are completely ridiculous, but I doubt they were meant to be taken seriously. They are more like cynical fairy tales in which the endings are sometimes grim.

Most of the career criminals which populate the stories are portrayed as the good guys (in contrast to police and bankers); although in some instances the narrator merely feigns goodwill toward
...more
Greg Kerestan
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's kind of a shame that, good as the musical "Guys and Dolls" is, it's more or less taken Damon Runyon's entire place in the public memory to itself. Runyon's short story anthology of the same name is a minor masterpiece of style over substance. The plots are almost negligible- little character sketches, often farcical in nature, about low-level gangsters, high-level hoods, would-be pimps, players and gamblers in Prohibition-era New York, mostly trying to win a girl's heart or make a quick buc ...more
Punk
Jun 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
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
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
April Helms
Aug 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, adult, fiction
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
...more
Dxmaniac69
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sam
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Deb
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Rawa Soorchy
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I ordered this book when i finished watching the movie 'guys and dolls' with marlon brando and frank sinatra. I loved the world created and wanted to read more about it.

To my surprise i quite enjoyed it. I was a bit hesitant to pick it up first but i read through it very quickly. There are parts that are very offensive and not all all pc. Especially the story of the bloodhounds of broadway. God that one made me cringe all the way through.

This book is mainly for people who want to read short sto
...more
David
Oct 16, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Maura
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Neil
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Leslie
Mar 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Timothy
Jun 20, 2012 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.
Kathryn French
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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"...
Mark Farley
I came to this book not as a fan of either the musical or the film (not having seen either, and watching the trailer online, have no intention on doing so) but just seeing the book around and it looking cool, and me embarking on a concerted effort to read more classics. I loved the hip jive language and the scenes of the city I once visited and loved. And the characters! Brilliant....
Erin
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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.
Lauren
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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."
Rosemary
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sammy
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Andrew
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
"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.
Stephanie
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Rebecca
Jan 03, 2009 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.
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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
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