Re: RARA-AVIS: Jack Black

From: William Denton (
Date: 05 Jan 2006

On 5 January 2006, Tribe wrote:

> Anyone ever read Jack Black's You Can't Win? All I know about it is
> that is was influential on William S. Burroughs and he was something of
> a early twentieth century bad-ass.

He was, but he wasn't as good a writer. I sent out a comment about it a while back, and said in part, "The bad thing about this book is that Black isn't a great writer. He had an incredible life, and there are lots of exciting stories in here, but they don't always come to life. Sometimes I'd start skimming out of mild boredom, only to realize Black had just escaped from jail again, or blown another safe, or backed down from holding up Bat Masterson.... He blew safes, he conned, he robbed, he burgled, he did everything. He hung out in gin joints, he got hooked on opium, he did time in jails in the U.S. and Canada. He knew Foot-and-a-Half George and Salt Chunk Mary and he partnered with the Sanctimonious Kid for a while. The book's filled with slang and bizarre characters, and lots of tips on how to get by if you're riding the rails or holing up in a small town and you need to raise cash, fast."

It reminded me a lot of Hammett--I could imagine Hammett, when he was with Pinkerton, chasing Black.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : :

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 05 Jan 2006 EST