In a kind of testimonial autobiography moving for its candor and tensions, Damon Runyon, Jr. traces the steps of his famous...
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In a kind of testimonial autobiography moving for its candor and tensions, Damon Runyon, Jr. traces the steps of his famous father and the family which shared his life in part. We come to know Damon Runyon as he works up from the six-gun West through a period of Kiplingesque poetry on the Spanish-American War, through years of alcoholism which ended with marriage, on to the years on Broadway and the Hearst column, contact with guys and dolls, and the final devastating illness,- cancer. Intermingled and almost predominant is the story of the Runyon family -- of the mother whose will was strong but not strong enough to keep her from destroying herself; of the sister who suffered from family tensions to the extent of mental illness; and most of all of the author as he struggled, during the last years of his father's illness, at once to attain an identity separate from his father and to achieve the closeness with him which had been impossible before. The Runyon drama with its tragic failures and triumphant successes climbed to a fitting denouement when hoods and cops came to pay last respects to the man who knew Broadway's heartbeat, and Eddie Rickenbacker, following the wishes of the deceased, scattered his ashes over Times Square. This has the impact of immediate experience.