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You Know Me Al

by Ring Lardner

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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.

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.

Book Description
"You Know me Al" is a classic of baseball--the game and the community. Jack Keefe, one of literature's greatest characters, is talented, brash, and conceited. Self-assured and imperceptive, impervious to both advice and sarcasm, Keefe rises to the heights, but his inability to learn makes for his undoing. Through a series of letters from this bush-league pitcher to his not-quite-anonymous friend Al, Lardner maintains a balance between the funny and the moving, the pathetic and the glorious.

Nostalgic in its view of pre-World War I America--a time before the "live" ball, a time filled with names like Ty Cobb, Charles Comiskey, Walter Johnson, and Eddie Cicotte--this is not a simple period piece. It is about competition, about the ability to reason, and most of all it is about being human. First published in 1914, "You Know Me Al" says as much to us about ourselves today as it did seventy-five years ago.

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I suppose you and the rest of the boys in Bedford will be surprised to learn that I am out here, because I remember telling you when I was sold to San Francisco by the White Sox that not under no circumstances would I report here. I was pretty mad when Comiskey give me my release, because I didn't think I had been given a fair show by Callahan. I don't think so yet Al and I never will but Bill Sullivan the old White Sox catcher talked to me and told me not to pull no boner by refuseing to go where they sent me. He says You're only hurting yourself.



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