- Paperback: 279 pages
- Publisher: A K Press/Nabat Books; First Trade Paper edition (April 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1902593022
- ISBN-13: 978-1902593029
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 108 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
You Can't Win Paperback – April 1, 2001
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-8 of 108 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The author, Jack Black, tells about his life as a criminal and hobo. Apparently he was commissioned to do this by a sort of church group, the idea being that enough would-be criminals would read what he says about the futility of a life of crime to be dissuaded from that career. Laughably, as far as this goal goes, the book is a failure, as it manages to make the live of an itinerant thief seem romantic and exciting, despite Black's (sincere?) protests that it wasn't.
Anyhow, I was mesmerized.
Note that the BN Publishing edition blows. It's got jack-squat for extras and a lot of typographical errors. You should get this edition instead: You Can't Win: it has a lot more stuff, such as an afterword that helps to clarify a few matters.
There were a couple of things that did bother me about this book, though:
1. Lots and lots of outdated slang and no glossary or footnotes in sight.
2. No timeline: it's hard to know when we're talking about. I can see that the book was published in 1926, but how old was Black at that time? In other words, when was he born? What I'm getting at is are his tales of San Francisco about the 60s? 70s? 80s? I for one would like to have known this.
3. Characterization was not as good as everybody's saying, IMO. Sure, the Sanctimonious Kid has a great nickname, but is his character really differentiated from the other hobos to the point where he comes alive on the page? I think not.
As someone very familiar with the subject matter (at least from my 20th century prespective) I can say it is a pretty fair glimps into the mind of the "criminal with a consciense".
There are a lot of "pro tips" to anyone planning to commit a crime.... my advice, and the final advice of the writer, is stop before you start.
In the song by the Clash "The Magnificent Seven," Joe Strummer sings "Socrates and Millhouse Nixon both took the same way, through the kitchen....you can be true, you can be false, you'll be given the same reward." This existential chant is at the heart of "You Can't Win." And the book also provides the origin for the Johnson's, which show up in many of William Burroughs' books. These memorable characters had a code of ethics and honor, though we today might view such a code with suspicion. But placed in the context of the time and compared to the way the police behaved during those days before Miranda and other events that curtailed police corruption and brutality, today's reader can glean important historical information he or she might not have learned in school. History is indeed a moving tale that provides a picture painted by the teller, and students of history and humanity worth their salt are going to listen to as many tales as they can. Only then can they conclude that they may be nearer the truth than they were before. And "You Can't Win" provides a side of the truth that is well told and compelling.
The sympathetic protagonist gives an insight into how it comes to be that a person we may see as antithetic to social norms can become that person that we see.
Well worth reading if you are interested in people, travel, drama and mirth.