Cover image for Broadway boogie woogie : Damon Runyon and the making of New York culture
Broadway boogie woogie : Damon Runyon and the making of New York culture
Schwarz, Daniel R.
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Publication Information:
New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, [2003]

Physical Description:
346 pages ; 22 cm
Acknowledgements -- Abbreviations for Runyon references -- Introduction : Who was Damon Runyon? -- Runyon's New York : historical contexts and fictional universe -- Eyes and ears of the city : Runyon's collected journalism -- Runyon's trial reporting and the spectator culture -- Art and artistry of Runyon's fiction -- Genres of Runyon's fiction : Noir and sentiment in a male-dominated world -- Genres of Runyon's fiction : gangsters, gamblers, and boxers -- Genres of Runyon's later fiction : nicely-nicely, political satire, Ambrose Hammer, Miami noir, and wartime stories -- Turps : domesticity in Brooklyn.
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PS3535.U52 Z75 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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While analyzing Damon Runyon's work in terms of historical contexts, popular culture, and of the changing function of the media, Schwarz argues that Runyon was an indispensible figure in creating enduring images of New York City culture, which spurred an interest in the demi-monde and underworld exposed in The Godfather films and The Sopranos . In lively and exuberant chapters that include a panoramic view of New York City between the World Wars--and its colorful nightlife--Schwarz examines virtually every facet of Runyon's career from sports writer, daily columnist, trial reporter, and Hollywood figure to the author of the still widely read short stories that were the source of the Broadway hit Guys and Dolls . As part of his discussion of Runyon's art and artistry of Runyon's fiction, he skillfully examines the special language of the Broadway stories known as "Runyonese" and explains how "Runyonese" has become an adjective describing flamboyant behavior.

Author Notes

Daniel R. Schwarz is Professor of English and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This intriguing scholarly study of Damon Runyon, a newspaper reporter, columnist, and short story writer, examines his contributions to New York City culture and identity in the early part of the 20th century. Schwarz (English, Cornell) considers Runyon's work in shaping urban culture from 1910 until his death in 1946, arguing that his subject was "high lowbrow," a cultural identity that shaped the media and created work that had "historical importance in forming the genres that still dominate mass culture today." His argument is supported by a critical and engaging study of the Runyon oeuvre, including short stories and newspaper columns. Readers are introduced to gangsters like "Harry the Horse," domestic stories featuring the Turps, and sentimental pieces featuring Waldo Winchester, based on real-life columnist Walter Winchell. Schwarz points out that Runyon's popularity originated in his understanding of readers' cultural and economic values. He wrote his stories as escapist literature, and in this sense, he was able to construct lessons from the stories and to define moral behavior resulting from the consequences of characters' actions. In this way, Runyon exerted influence far beyond writing a story and had an enormous impact on popular culture in America. Recommended for academic libraries.-Katherine E. Merrill, Milne Lib., SUNY Geneseo (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Runyon, who was a talented journalist and wrote hundreds of short stories, is best remembered for "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown," which became Guys and Dolls, a major Broadway show and then a film. In this thought-provoking examination of Runyon and his historical context, Schwarz (Cornell Univ.) argues that scholars have overlooked many of the writer's contributions to American culture. Runyon's pen helped usher in a new age dominated by consumer capitalism and a fascination with popular culture. To demonstrate the writer's importance, Schwarz surveys the context of a large number of Runyon's short stories and newspaper articles. The work's early chapters explore Runyon's background and his infatuation with the new and uniquely American culture that was emerging on New York City's Broadway. Later chapters demonstrate how Runyon's fiction both mirrors the gritty, urban imagery captured by artists of the Ash Can school, and reflects US obsession with gangsters, gamblers, jazz musicians, and sport heroes in the 1930s. From a biographical perspective, this work serves as an excellent companion piece for Jimmy Breslin's Damon Runyon (1991) and, as a study of the formation of commercial culture, it complements William R. Taylor's In Pursuit of Gotham (CH, Dec'92). ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/collections. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. v
Abbreviations for Runyon Referencesp. vi
Introduction: Who Was Damon Runyon?p. 1
1. Runyon's New York: Historical Contexts and Fictional Universep. 29
2. The Eyes and Ears of the City: Runyon's Collected Journalismp. 66
3. Runyon's Trial Reporting and the Spectator Culturep. 111
4. The Art and Artistry of Runyon's Fictionp. 141
5. The Genres of Runyon's Fiction: Noir and Sentiment in a Male-Dominated Worldp. 167
6. The Genres of Runyon's Fiction: Gangsters, Gamblers, and Boxersp. 212
7. The Genres of Runyon's Later Fiction: Nicely-Nicely, Political Satire, Ambrose Hammer, Miami Noir, and Wartime Storiesp. 249
8. The Turps: Domesticity in Brooklynp. 285
Conclusionp. 317
Notesp. 323
Works Cited and Discussedp. 335
Indexp. 341