Big, fat, dumb, lazy, vain, headstrong and cheap, Jack Keefe is a journeyman pitcher with the Chicago White Sox in the rowdy days of the Deadball Era, circa 1915, ruled by the likes of Ty Cobb and John McGraw. In You Know Me Al, we follow Jack Keefe’s life on-field and off, via the letters Jack writes to his old chum Al in his home town of Bedford, Indiana.
Ring Lardner was a Chicago sportswriter who covered the White Sox, and he brought an insider’s knowledge of clubhouse life together with his biting wit and gift for the vernacular to create a comic gem in You Know Me Al. The six Jack Keefe stories that compose this volume were originally written as individual magazine articles, but the epistolary format made it easy to collect them into a single running narrative covering Jack’s first two years in the Big Leagues.
It isn’t necessary to know baseball history to enjoy the book, which is as much about Jack’s troubles with girlfriends, wives and babies as it is about the Chicago White Sox. For the baseball fan, however, this glimpse into a bygone era adds an extra layer of fascination. In any case, Lardner’s portrait of the professional ballplayer as a dumb, drunken narcissist is as funny today as the day it was written.
Gosh, what can I add to that blurb, it says everything I was going to say! Well I suppose I can tell you that the reader creates a fantastic voice character for not only the protagonist but also many of the people he runs into. The voice of the reader is what really brings this book to life.
I suspect that a stright reading of this book would have fallen rather flat, but the characterisation in the voice of the reader makes this audio book into an absolute joy!
The humour is subtle and between the lines. As you learn to know and love the lead character, his traits are what will get you laughing. It's hard to explain really, but only once you know this guy does the humour flow out.
To summarise, this is a great read, light humour at its best.
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Listen to chapter 1