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You Know Me Al (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Unabridged, April 20, 2016

42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In his day, Ring Lardner was a legendary humorist (a job-description he disavowed), and You Know Me Al shows why everyone loved him so. In the letters of Jack Keefe, a bush-league pitcher who finally gets his chance in the majors, Lardner shows not only a faultless ear, but also a keen eye for the amusing details of human folly. Keefe is no comical bumbler--he has talent--but also possesses astonishing naïvete, and a lack of self-awareness that is unerringly hilarious. The busher blames everyone but himself for his failures (a trait that Lardner uses to wonderful comic effect in the story "Alibi Ike"). Still, thanks to Keefe's mixture of hubris and puppy-dog trust, you want to see him come out all right.

Lardner--who played a role in breaking the infamous "Black Sox" scandal of 1919--wrote You Know Me Al while covering pro baseball in the teens; for baseball fans, the book is an intriguing glimpse into the past. Athletes haven't changed much, poor devils. They're just as funny as ever, only richer. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Lardner's famous collection of humorous short stories gets the no-frills treatment from Dover's "Thrift Editions" series. A buck here buys a million dollars worth of laughs.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 20, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486285138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486285139
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,319,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By S. D. Brekke Jr. on May 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The travails of the boastful, blame-shifting, naive-unto-the-point-of-stupidity White Sox rookie first went into print 85 years ago. It's one of the miracles of 20th century fiction -- or a comment on the eternal childishness of America's national pastime -- that the bush leaguer's absurd confidences to a friend back home are still fresh and funny. "I have not worked yet Al and I asked Callahan to-day what was the matter and he says I was waiting for you to get in shape. I says I am in shape now and I notice that when I was pitching in practice this A.M. they did not hit nothing out of the infield. He says That was because you are so spread out that they could not get nothing past you. He says The way you are now you cover more ground than the grand stand. I says Is that so? And he walked away." Yeah, this is clearly the same sport where the portly John Kruk turned aside a question a few years ago about conditioning with the Bartlett's-worthy, "We're not athletes. We're ballplayers."
Lardner does more than get laughs at the expense of his dense protagonist, though. He gives an intimate picture of baseball in its first classic era -- the busher comes face to face with Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson with interesting results. But it's not a sentimental depiction of the age: Among those with whom the busher crosses paths is the famously parsimonious and autocratic White Sox owner, Charles Comiskey. The book gives a hint of the resentments that led his players to agree to throw a World Series (as they did a few years after Lardner wrote "You Know Me Al") and illustrates the indentured servitude that all but the best players endured before free agency arrived in the mid-'70s.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Ring Lardner was a newspaper sports writer in the early 1900s. He rode the trains with professional baseball players and joined in thier card games. "You Know Me Al" is a unique set of letters from a fictional rookie ball player to his friend Al back home. The book contains real teams and stats, but is a fast-reading fictional look at the lives of players. With everything from front office negotiations with Comiski to on-the-field trash talk, "You Know Me Al" is a must-read for baseball fans who miss the game of yesteryear.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George Schaefer on October 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book was a real hoot to read. Ive always loved the language that revolved around the game of baseball. Ring Lardner does a credible job of creating this youthful prospect trying to make big in The Show. The format of writing letters gives it a touch a realism. The language and grammar of this semiliterates lend it a charm that is slightly reminiscent of Huck Finn. His delusional arrogance is more humorous than offensive in the long run. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the literature and journalism that surrounds this great American game.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Zinta Aistars on January 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not being much of a sports fan, but for many years standing close beside one, I knew nothing of Ring Lardner until I visited Niles, Michigan, pursuing a story of my own. In a quaint hometown treasures museum, we discovered the local author gone national, with a first edition of "You Know Me Al" under glass. Intrigued, I purchased a modern day copy soon after for my sports fan, but I had to read it first myself.

In full agreement with Virginia Woolf in the book's Introduction, I can say you do not have to be a sports fan to enjoy Lardner's humorous portrayal of Jack Keefe, a bush-league pitcher who writes frequent letters to his best pal, Al, about his adventures on and off the baseball field. The letters are filled with hilarious misspellings, misunderstandings, and general bumblings. Jack may be a good athlete, but his mind, shall we say, is his least athletic muscle...

All of which adds to the slim book's charm. Jack writes to Al about his fortunes and misfortunes in pitching, forever blaming others for his own obvious failures, never missing a chance to boast, thumping his manly chest with threats that he will beat up this guy or that for some imagined slight. His arrogance is in high form, but just about the time it approaches the point of no return, Jack charms with his naivete. One can't help but laugh at him again, much as one laughs at a child or a wildly bounding puppy.

The letters are not just about baseball, however, but just as comically illustrate Jack's romantic flailings, as he imagines Violet is ever so smitten with him, then decides to marry another, only to drop her for another, only to long for the first again, only to marry Florrie. With whom the threat of divorce comes up again and again in similar cyclings.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Conrad Guest on February 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had not never heard of Ring Lardner until a visit to his home town in Niles Michigan right near outside of Kalamazoo. Born in Niles Michigan in 1885 Lardner was a sports writer for the Chicago Tribyoon but he is best well known for these busher letters that he rote as instalmints for The Satirday Eevning Post.

The best letters were collected for this book You Know Me Al that were first published in 1914. It cronikles a bushers rise to the major league threw a serious of letters written to his pal Al in Bedford Illinoy. Jack Keefe is a right hander pitcher who has got some good stuf but he is offten his own worse enemy. He sees the baseball world round him threw child inocents seeing his skills as supeerier to every one. Think Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham. His qwik tempurr shows when he looses it is because he got no support from his team and so he blaims every one but him. And in these letters to his pal Al he shows how all too human he is even as he shows no skill with girls his team mates his manager or at writing. No atemped is made to kleen up miss-spelled words or fix up bad grammer. These letters show a glimpse into the great game of baseball threw the eyes of some one who played for Charles Comiskey, ohner of the White Sox and against Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson.

You dont have to be a fan of the game to like this book. In fact I never knowed what a fadeaway fast ball was until I red this book. It is a fast ball that when the hitter hits it it fades away over the fence. And it can be red in a lot of ways. As historik fikshun a baseball book or a caractor study that shows that athaletes even then lived in a difrent world then ours. You can't not like this book.

Hily reckomended.
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