Runyon's New York

He practically invented at least two entire decades of his times, and had everybody believing that his street, Broadway, actually existed. So much of it never happened. What do you care? What does anybody care? Go to any library and the illusion is there as fact. The Roaring Twenties, the Golden Age of Sport, Broadway, the warmhearted guys and dolls…

--Jimmy Breslin about Damon Runyon

 

Born in Manhattan, Kansas, on this day in 1880, Runyon was thirty when he arrived in New York to be a newspaper reporter, and to try out his crap-shoot worldview -- "All of life is six to five against" -- at Lindy's, the Stork Club, and any betting window available. "When Runyon turned from news to delivering myths," writes Breslin in his 1991 biography, "they became one of the few things ever to spring out of the Broadway cement and last."

 


Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.

 

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.