i read three collections of damon runyon stories this summer, and this one, runyon a la carte was my favourite. it could be argued that though i think these are the best of damon runyon's stories, as a body they don't really conform with the cynicism that runyon is known for. the introduction of what somebody else termed, "the best of runyon", notes that there isn't much pathos in damon runyon stories but practically every story in this particular collection has a lot of emotional resonance, the only exception being "the idylls of miss sarah brown" which no doubt was included because this story is one of the lynch pins for his most famous collection, guys and dolls, which in some ways now more famous that the author himself, sadly somewhat lost to obscurity.
stories that broke my heart for me include: a light in france, johnny one-eye, and little pinks. stories that put a smile on my face, and are more in line with the standard runyon tale are: so you won't talk! and palm beach santa claus.
what is most startling about runyon is his use of the present tense. it felt subtly wrong to me at first but but i soon saw that since so much of his stories are driven by dialogue, this characteristic of his writing only seems to enhance the playfulness of the vernacular that his characters use to speak, and seduce his readers.