An Irish crime writer revitalizes Runyon
I'm not sure how many know Runyon's writing these days (as opposed to movie adaptations, such as Guys and Dolls), but I agree that many know his name and that the name is encrusted with nostalgia.
Garbhan Downey's 2005 collection of linked stories, Off Broadway, chips away at the crust. Its title is an acknowledged nod to Runyon on Broadway, and Downey's characters have colorful nicknames, gather in bars, and speak in the present tense, as Runyon's did.
So what makes these stories fresh? The contemporary settings: Derry, Boston, New York. Paramilitaries and methods of violence I'd read about in other Northern Ireland crime writing. Thus I smiled at the diction of
"(T)he hundred K he'll get from the Massachusetts Public Insurance Board to make up for the two holes in the back of his knees, which incidentally will be developing about now"
(Read about Damon Runyon and sample his work here.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2008