You Can't Win

Front Cover
AK Press/Nabat, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 279 pages
165 Reviews
You hold in your hands a true lost classic, one of the most legendary cult books ever published in America. Jack Black's autobiography was a bestseller and went through five printings in the late 1920's. It has led a mostly subterranean existence since then - best known as William Burrough's favorite book, one he admitted lifting big chunks of from memory for his first novel, Junky. But it's time we got wise to this book, which is itself a remarkably wise book - and a ripping true saga. It's an amazing journey into a hobo underworld; freight hopping around the still wide open West at the turn of the 20th century, becoming a member of the "yegg" (criminal) brotherhood and a highwayman, learning the outlaw philosophy from the Foot-and-a-half George and the Sanctimonious Kid, getting hooked on opium, passing through hobo jungles, hop joints and penitentiaries. This is a chunk of the American story entirely left out of the history books - it's a lot richer and stranger than the official version. This new edition also includes an Afterword that tells some of what became of Black after he wore out the outlaw life and washed up in San Francisco, wrote this book and reinvented himself.

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His writing style is simple. - Goodreads
Nice job on the character research, Deadwood team. - Goodreads
It's so well-written that it transcends that gimmick. - Goodreads
An interesting life, a decent writer. - Goodreads
Extremely good writing and a ripping tale. - Goodreads
He admits that this was a blueprint to his own writing. - Goodreads

Review: You Can't Win

User Review  - Nadia - Goodreads

Highly recommended, originally published in 1926, this memoir of a professional criminal & hobo is frank, honest, contemplative and charismatic. A little window on the turn-of-the-century underworld long forgotten. Read full review

Review: You Can't Win

User Review  - Peter Smith - Goodreads

Salt Chunk Mary's jamboree. "Sanc [the Sanctimonious Kid] and I were fortunate enough to witness the windup of one of her most memorable celebrations. Leaving her hack at the curb, she walked into her ... Read full review

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