Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For Real Toads: epistle challenge

Kerry's challenge today for the writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads is an epistle challenge. An epistle, in its original meaning, is a letter.
Kerry has asked us to think of writers and characters in literature and then to take "into account the voice of the writer and the identity of the receiver." And she continues: "All the rest is poetry." Ah, Kerry my girl, you don't know me very well yet!
Unable to follow instructions to the letter, I admit I have written neither a poem in letter form, nor a letter in poem form. I happen to be reading a book written by American newspaperman and author, the controversial and not always beloved Jimmy Breslin, about the life of another American newspaperman whose columns became books and whose books became radio shows and movies: the popular and long-remembered Damon Runyon.
These two men most likely never met, as Breslin would have been 16 when Runyon died of cancer in 1946, but I've written a letter to Breslin in an approximation of Runyon's style. It is neither literature nor poetry, but I have tried to reflect, as best I can, two twentieth century American writers whose books I have enjoyed, so my submission does take into account the voice of the writer and the identity of the receiver.
First, a quotation from each of the two men:
I busted out of the place in a hurry and went to a saloon and drank beer and said that for the rest of my life I'd never take a job in a place where you couldn't throw cigarette butts on the floor. I was hooked on this writing for newspapers and magazines. 

Always try to rub against money, for if you rub against money long enough, some of it may rub off on you.
in A Very Honorable Guy

Herewith, then, the epistle, as I imagine Mr. Runyon might have written it to Mr. Breslin, had they been born at compatible times in newspaper history.

Dear Mr. Breslin:
Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Damon Runyon, at least that is the name under which I write if not precisely the name under which I was born, and I am by way of being a newspaperman in this man’s town.
I am standing on the corner of Broadway and 47th Street and thinking thusly: I am in need of a new legman because my former legmen, namely Mr. Ed Sullivan and Mr. Walter Winchell, seem both to have somehow found new employment in different lines of work.
I am not in a position to pay you much money, especially as you are a very young and very inexperienced legman, but am in a position to introduce you to some of the more interesting characters on Broadway: among them Mr. Dave the Dude in particular, and Mr. Nicely Nicely who isn’t particular at all.
The position of legman may not be familiar to you as you do not seem to have done much in the way of newspaper writing due to your extreme youth, but I understand you have legs and are willing to use them.
If you are interested in beginning a career as a newspaperman, please write to me at the address below.
Yours most sincerely,

A. Damon Runyon
New York, New York


Sherry Blue Sky said...

I so enjoyed this, Kay. From age fourteen through graduation, I worked as a cub reporter at the Daily Courier - it was all old-time newsroom then - "Stop the Presses", the printers, who set the print by hand, upside down and backwards, in the back room, us in the front of the shop........I did straight news, feature stories, interviews, even took a stab at proofreading.......this took me back to those great days - newsrooms are so different now.......

Ella said...

Fascinating, I like your choice. It makes me want to know more about the behind the scenes news world! :D

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have captured the voice so well, and provided the perfect context for the communication. Thank you for taking part in this challenge.

Jinksy said...

That certainly speak with a believable voice, though it floats over my British head somewhat, being insular by birth...

Leslie said...

I LOVE this! ( My daughter is graduating with a journalism and english degree in the spring, and recently took a detective novel class as an exit requirement. She's been reading me excerpts from Chandler's Philip Marlowe books, and somehow, your letter reminds me of both journalists and detectives of that era.)

This was a fun read :)

jabblog said...

Very enjoyable, Kay, and written most knowledgeably.

Mary Ann Potter said...

Enjoyed this, Kay! Very good choices - loved the pictures - and genuine voices.

Heaven said...

An interesting feature and letter..thanks for sharing it ~

shawnacy said...

'i understand you have legs'...
the wry charm of the newspaperman is as plain as ink.
do more of this. :)

Kay L. Davies said...

@ shawnacy — your phrase "wry charm" pretty much sums up how I feel about Damon Runyon's writing. It is, I am sure, the reason so many of his characters have made it to the big screen.
Thanks for your comment. It means a lot, because my fondness for writers like Runyon goes back to my childhood and the things my father taught me.

Mary said...

Nice Written from the point of view of an 'insider.' I came to this challenge late, so I will share my link with you here, hoping you will visit:

Stunning work! The letter makes me feel SO warm on this chilly winter night.

As I am late accepting this challenge, I am going to share my link here, hoping you'll visit:

Doctor FTSE said...

Well written in the style and tone of the period.