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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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You Know Me Al Paperback – September 11, 1991

4.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (September 11, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020223420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020223429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,074,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review refers to the 99¢ Kindle edition. The entire text appears to be there, but there are what seem to have been titles for illustrations sitting around loose, with the illustrations themselves missing. Never mind that, however, what about the book?

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.
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