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You Know Me Al Paperback – September 11, 1991
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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
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
There is some clever observation here about human nature that transcends the baseball framework. Jack Keefe, who tells us his story through letters to his friend Al, is an aspiring pitcher starting out in the majors. He would probably be much the same person in any line of work, though, vain about his abilities, blaming his failures on other people or on pure chance, but never on himself, taking full credit for his successes without realizing how others have helped him. He is undisciplined, irresponsible, easily manipulated, and generally clueless. After a couple of near misses with female sports fans, he marries a young woman as irresponsible and unready for married life as himself. Their relationship is rocky, and her demands coupled with his foolishness nearly wreck his career. No doubt they will both mature and work things out, but Lardner never gives in to sentimentality in describing their marriage.
On the positive side, Jack is genuinely talented as a pitcher, and will probably be okay in the long run. He means well, and it's obvious that Al, who never gets to speak for himself, sees something in him worthy of friendship. Jack's devotion to his infant son is touching, although as with everything else in his life, tinged with cluelessness.
Still, apart from the human interest, there is that baseball framework. Well, of course there is. Lardner was a sports writer, writing fiction aimed at baseball fans.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked the book quite a bit! I wish there were more to read! Illistrations were fantastic! Do another one Josh!Published 2 days ago by Caryn Gilliland
Despite this book being written a hundred years ago, as a ball player, I could immediately identify with the lead character. A must for any baseball fan!Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
The Roaring 20s, it turns out, were the Golden Ages of many splinters of society. Some claim movies. It is a valid argument. Boxing saw its heyday in this decade, as well. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Pugwash
A hilarious look at baseball's early rears. Made me laugh out loud many times. A must read for anyone interested in baseball and/or Americana humor.Published 9 months ago by William R. Snow
This is a classic. Ring Lardner, in case you don't know, is one of the greats from the Robert Benchley/Dorothy Parker/Alexander Woollcott period. He is worthy of your attention. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Shalanna Collins
ThIs is a surprisingly good piece of literature. Reminiscent of Mark Twain. Great humor, but subtle.Published 11 months ago by Bobel