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The Honest Rainmaker: Life and Times of Colonel John R. Stingo Hardcover – April 11, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A welcome reminder of the multifaceted talents and fecund curiosity of the legendary New Yorker writer, this chronicles Liebling's fascination with the shenanigans of wayward septuagenarian horse-racing journalist James A. Macdonald, aka Col. John R. Stingo. As the two roam Manhattan saloons and seamy neighborhoods in the 1940s, Stingo's effervescent, overblown, inimitable chatter--liberally laced with "labyrinthian" digressions--affectionately recalls and reinvents (he "never permits facts to interfere with the exercise of his imagination") a motley crew of swindlers, suckers and crazies. A hunchbacked shoeshine man at the Belmont Park racing track sells women a good-luck touch of his hump for $10; a self-made scientist convinces the Belmont authorities that he can prevent rain; a racing sheet publisher is sued by a neglected wife "because she said if I hadn't given him the winners he wouldn't have had any money the broads would have let him alone he would of been home with her!"no punctuation,just one long runon/pk
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"The Honest Rainmaker, reread with fresh wonder and gratitude, reinfects us with what was romantic about Liebling himself. At the New Yorker, Liebling's neighbors, nodding off in their thin-walled beige cubicles, were regularly jolted back to consciousness by the sound of Liebling laughing aloud as he read pages he has just pulled from the typewriter." - Garrison Keillor and Mark Singer, foreword --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd (April 11, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1872180434
  • ISBN-13: 978-1872180434
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,402,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Donald Beale on November 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
Although less well-known than the "Earl of Louisiana" and the recently-rescued-from-neglect "Between Meals," this sly and rollicking account of a Gentleman con-man is among Liebling's greatest achievements in form and in style. No follower of AJL's work can fail to note the author's bag of tricks or his own con game within the story, both of which illustrate Liebling at the top of his game. Purportedly a reporter's account of an aged confidence man, the work is in fact a running gag. Liebling was well-versed in the lore of American fun-and-games, an erudition that breaks forth in these pages with unalloyed glee. He contributes an account of gunfights in newspaper offices that some readers will recognize as an offshoot of a Twain story (which was also worked over, without gunfire, by Mencken).
The structure is simple: an aged newspaper man (the Colonel) recounts his life in "the Fourth Estate," complete with race tracks, swindles, marks, boobs and baloney. Charming scams are told in an engaging, orotund style in the hands of a master reporter and portraitist whose skills are sorely needed today. Liebling's delight in his world are evident, and an attentive reader will view the modern era with a more mirthful eye when he finishes the book. It is also worth pointing out that, as an example of a well-told story, this book is unsurpassed. The details are perfect and the timing is exquisite. Seasoned readers of Red Smith, Joe Mitchell and Damon Runyon (to pick only three)will noticed many inside jokes that only increase on re-reading. One fears this work has been neglected because it is just too damn clever and too damn good. Now that a humorist has been awarded a Nobel Prize, perhaps America will awaken to the fact that fun and wit have some revealing things to say. But do not let the fear of portentious Truth deter you from this book: you need gain nothing but fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Weigel on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Honest Rainmaker" is the best of A, J. Liebling, a reporter who wrote for the New Yorker Magazine for many years until his death in 1963.

It chronicles the life of James S. A. McDonald, a sports writer who used the pseudonym Col. John R. Stingo as told (for the most part) by McDonald's reminisces and tales of skulduggery.

It's difficult to talk about this book without quoting long stretches of it. Suffice it say that, as Liebling says, "when Col. Stingo departed from the truth, he improved upon it."

One of the funniest books I have ever read.
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