“I Read the New Ring Lardner and Here Is What I Thought”
By Joshua BaldwinFebruary 6, 2017
The Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner by Ring Lardner and Ron Rapoport
Well you know I am a big fan of Ring Lardner from ever since I bought that collection of his stories Haircut and Other Stories from the street seller on 72nd and Broadway when I was a kid just walking around growing up in New York City. That book has made a fair influence on me to say the least.
So when the Los Angeles Review of Books said there is a new book of Mr. Lardner’s writings from all the old newspapers never before published in a book and would you like to review it of course I said Yes.
Whence I got the book in the mails from the people at the University of Nebraska Press who published it and I have been reading it and now let me get down to the business of this review.
First off it is a fat book that will keep you pretty well entertained and you shouldn’t hesitate to just look at the Table of Contents and turn the page to whatever part might strike your interests. I did that myself and also I checked out the whole book straight forward through for the porpoises of the job.
As you know from if you have ever read any Ring Lardner he writes like regular people talk or at least the way they did in his times being the first 30 some odd years of the 20th century and when you read him pretty soon you will start to feel like he is one of your friends. Judging from my notes this handsome tomb is no exception.
It starts out right where he starts out and I was specially pleased to read a one early Chi. Tribune piece from the very first baseball game played at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh P.A. as that is a very beautiful city where I know some good people. And not that I ever sat at Forbes because the field was gone before I was alive but I agree with Mr. Ring Lardner when he wrote how pretty it was to look out at the scenery from there.
While we are on the subject of baseball there is a great many pages of the book devoted to that passed time not to mention many other sports including golf, boxing, football, and even sailing and some horse racing. Oh and hockey too which he hated. There is small mention of bowling if any. He also disdained politics which you can tell from his reports from some of the democrat and republican conventions of his times including the Coolidge candidate.
Now you sure understand from hearing that name Coolidge that the times covered herein these pages covers some olden times from the current day and age. Okay maybe that is why here and there some of the jokes fall flat on a deaf ear and some of the names being mentioned might not ring a damn bell. Even so the prose makes funny music no matter what and in this I hope you will agree.
Take for instants some of the things Mr. Lardner wrote about when drink went against the law in the U.S. during prohibition. He gives out some wild ideas for how to make liquors from house hold items in one column for the Bell Syndicate and just because I don’t know who in the hell was Harry Lauder when he makes mention of the fellow doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have spit out my beer laughing if I was drinking one while I read but I was on the book review job Freddy so of course I wasn’t having any beer right then.
Earlier I mentioned the part about Pittsburgh and I would be reminisced not to also mention some of the other cities we see described in the pages of this new hard cover costing $39.95 retail price that in the full name of transparence I accepted for free in arrangement with the publisher for being as I am doing this here Book Review.
Further more in these pages we go all around this nation of ours from city to city including New York City, Chicago, Hollywood, Miami. While Mr. Lardner made his home in a big house in the town of Great Neck Long Island for the good bulk of his very successful writing career as a journalist, fiction writer, play write, and even song writer let it not be said that the man did not get around. For one thing such was the nature of his work as a sportswriter to travel with the teams and he even got to Paris Europe when he reported for the first World War.
All of these things and more do we hear about in this big book which when all was said and done is a total of 553 pages according to the final page number in the book.
On most of these pages we certainly have the hithertofore unpublished journalisms of Ring Lardner. But there are also to each section some handy introductions by the editor of the book a Mr. Ron Rapoport and they read to me something like very fine praise worthy book reviews themselves and full of good information on the where and why of what Mr. Lardner was coming from when he wrote all these things.
And to make my self clear he wrote a hell of a lot of journalism almost every day as best he could as evidenced from this collection. I would also be reminisced not to tell you that we have a Foreword in the very front by Mr. Lardner’s grandson James Lardner and it is a good thing we get the familiar prospective from a family that has indeed produced many other writers no less.
In the end of the day like I was telling to my friends when I was buried in this book, if you are a Ring Lardner fan like I am you will want this book even if you have to pay the full price for it and if you are not a Ring Lardner reader yet I will tell you go ahead and pick up the collections of his stories out there and in due time you will finally find your self searching out for this book too because there is never enough Ring Lardner if you asked me.
Okay Freddy that is my review of the Lost Journalism of Ring Lardner and I will be sending it on over to the L.A. Review of Books where hopefully you will be seeing it there too. And if you do would you do me a favor and print it out and mail me one too when you see it I will mostly appreciate it.
Joshua Baldwin is an editor and columnist at Eephus, the sports channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is the author of The Wilshire Sun (a novella, Turtle Point Press). His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, n+1, The Brooklyn Rail, Chicago Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles.
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