You Can't Win

You Can't Win

Book - 2000
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"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."--BOOK JACKET. Title Summary fie.
Publisher: Edinburgh :, AK Press/Nabat,, [2000]
Edition: Second edition.
Copyright Date: ©2000
ISBN: 9781902593029
Branch Call Number: 364.1092 B6275B
Characteristics: 279 pages : portrait ; 23 cm.


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Nov 14, 2019

Underground/Counterculture interests me so this book had been on my To Read list for years. I finally borrowed it and at first I didn't like it. I had thought it was going to be about the travel adventures of a hobo, but there is also the fact that he burglarized people's homes (a traumatic or at least emotional experience -esp if sentimental items are stolen). I kept reading though and certain things he wrote about near the end were interesting. What was also interesting was that he ended up spending some time in BC (& Alberta) and was actually born in New Westminster and spent some time in the penitentiary that used to be there but is now a townhouse village. (Also another interesting fact, the man at the pen who "gave him the strap" was named Mr Burr -a relative of Raymond Burr maybe? (Raymond Burr also came from New Westminster)

Aug 28, 2019

Once I started it I didn't want to put it down, and was bummed when I finished it. What a cool story.

May 10, 2018

I will probably always scramble for words to describe this epic. Though I can say for sure that it will be the first book I'm going to recommend to anyone, for the foreseeable future.

Frightening, surreal, very very real, heart breaking and shocking, adventurous and humorous - all with moral lessons tucked away on the shadows of this underground while told in the voice of your older, kindly neighbor. Feelings and words are everywhere.

It wasn't until I reached the end that I noticed the text at the very bottom of the publication page: "Prisoners can receive this book by sending $10.00 to A.K. Press at the Oakland address noted above." A knot shot right to my throat and it's going to be a while before it goes away.

Jul 03, 2017

Great book, with Canadian references ( author was flogged in the BC Pen' ). Sorry for spoiler!

Mar 13, 2017

Loved this book. I felt like I was there living that crazy but thrilling life in a time long gone and never to return.


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