Books: The Hired Rebel

RUNYON FIRST AND LAST (255 pp.)—Damon Runyon—Lippincott ($2.75).

By 1945, when Damon Runyon wrote his last stories, they had become as predictably stylized as a Balinese dance. His Broadway heroes, for example, were called Sam the Gonoph, Harry the Horse or Gigolo Georgie; they could calculate the death of a pal as coldly as the third race at Jamaica—but in Runyon's last-paragraph twists and hooks they always proved to have hearts of gold.

Latter-day Runyon creatures spoke a language of their own, a dialect which showed traces of remote English ancestry but which, despite its...

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