If you have an interest in more than just the hardware of the Noir era (which, of course, we all love), and are interested in the era itself, you really, really need to read some of the works of Damon Runyon. Alfred Damon Runyon lived from 1880 to 1946, and was a sports writer in New York. At least, until he turned his writing to the characters and the feel of the times in the 20’s and 30’s. He began writing short stories about the characters of New York, the gangsters, the coppers, and the regular citizens, and their interactions. Several of his stories were made into movies. Guys and Dolls is probably the best known, but there were several others.
Damon Runyon had a particular way of storytelling. Everything was in the first person, and in the present tense. Everybody had a nickname, and the narrator of the stories is never named. He also used and made up slang terms for many things. He gave us the term “roscoe” for a handgun, but it also might be a heater, equalizer, or a Betsy.
More Than Somewhat is one of the collections of his stories. Many are humorous, but there are also stories of revenge, and retribution, and redemption. Some are poignant, some are sad, and some are just ridiculous. Runyon also liked to have a twist at the end. I guarantee that once you start reading one of his stories, you will just have to continue to see what happens next.
This particular collection of stories is available as an Amazon Kindle download for $1.99. It’ll be the best two Bobs you ever spent.