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You Can’t Win , the beloved memoir of real lowdown Americana by criminal hobo Jack Black, was first published in 1926, then reprinted in 1988 by Adam Parfrey’s Amok Press, featuring an introduction by William S. Burroughs.

After its Amok Press edition went out of print, You Can’t Win found popularity once again with the AK Press edition.

Feral House’s new version will take this classic American narrative a lot further, including two remarkable nonfiction articles by Jack Black written for Harper's Magazine in the 1920s. Remarkable illustrations by Joe Coleman and new biographical revelations by Donald Kennison will round out the new edition.

A full-length feature film of You Can’t Win starring Boardwalk Empire ’s Michael Pitt is expected to be released in spring 2013.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936239610
Publisher: Feral House
Publication date: 06/25/2013
Edition description: Enlarged
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 185,116
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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You Can't Win 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Lono2 More than 1 year ago
This is the only book that describes the underworld of the turn of the century. There is no glossed over accounts of the fabulous life of the early 1900's. This is one gritty, hard-boiled story that blows away any novel written at that time. Looking for something dark and almost too honest? This is a book for you.
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
see above
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad file. Won't open. Only issue I've had with an e-nook from B&N.
pants_andy More than 1 year ago
No content. Only the cover was delivered. I am having a difficult time receiving reimbursement for this purchase. My first bad experience with b+n Nook. Stay away
amareshjoshi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very interesting look at the lives of thieves and hobos in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America and Canada. Well written in simple plain language. There were a lot of typos though, as if the editor used a spell checker.
ChazzW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Somewhere, buried in an article about something else, I saw an oblique reference to Jack Black¿s 1926 memoir as a little known cult classic. Hooked. I¿m a sucker for little known classics, so I had to read this one. A sort of cautionary tale replete with gentle sermonizing, it¿s also a truly fascinating account of the incubation, life and reform of a professional drifter, hobo and petty career criminal. There¿s an innocence (if that;s the right word) reading it now from the perspective of the 21st Century. Writing about his formative years, his education as a criminal, his many incarcerations and his eventual reform, Black¿s memoir is a rapid, straight ahead read that holds the reader¿s interest with his inside look at the criminal mind - though this criminal mind probably is more insightful than most.It¿s the details of his criminal activities that are riveting - the stick-ups and heists, especially the planning of them, the fencing, the house break-ins, the hotel knock-offs, the safe cracking - as well as his descriptions of the prison systems (of both Canada and the US) back in those years. And it¿s the prison systems and the reforms that Black felt made sense that must have been the real impetus for this book. One can¿t help but think of our current approach to `crime and punishment¿ when Black talks his straight talk about what works, what doesn¿t, and is mostly counter-productive.Jack Black. From juvenile `delinquent¿ to rail car hoppin¿ hobo, to on the lam criminal, to brutalized inmate, to bottom of the barrel `hop-head¿, to prison reform librarian¿.it¿s all here, and though Black admits his failings, he makes no excuses for himself. The code of the criminal that is a large part of Black¿s memoir, carries over to Black¿s post-criminal life with a consistent code of dispassionate self-examination. Therein lies the respect that Black earns from the reader with his honesty. It¿s difficult to explain to a layman the pride of a professional thief. Nevertheless he must have pride or he would steal his clothes, beat his board bills, and borrow money with no thought of repaying it. He doesn¿t do those things day after day, but day after day he takes chances and is proud that he can keep his end up and pay for the things he needs. All wrong, of course, but there it is. If I had brains enough to grease a griddle, I would have taken a hundred dollars from the boss Chinaman in the matter of Chew Chee and gone off somewhere, got a job, and tried to do the right thing by myself and others. But no, I was a journeyman; I had served a long and careful apprenticeship; professional pride - I don¿t know what else to call it - would not permit me to take the Chinaman¿s money for rescuing him from our common enemy, the law, and I went out to get money in my own way. I was wrong. I knew I was wrong, and yet I persisted. If that is possible of any explanation it is this: From the day I left my father my lines had been cast, or I cast them myself, among crooked people. I had not spent one hour in the company of an honest person. I had lived in an atmosphere of larceny, theft, crime. I thought in terms of theft. Houses were built to be burglarized, citizens were to be robbed, police to be avoided and hated, stool pigeons to be chastised, and thieves to be cultivated and protected. That was my code; the code of my companions. That was the atmosphere I breathed. ¿If you live with wolves, you will learn to howl.¿Of reforming the criminal, Black has lots to say about the penal system as it existed in the early decades of the 20th Century. And while the reform of that system may have been one of the prime motivators for the writing of this memoir, it¿s in the area of responsibility and self reform that Black really is very clear and speaks from experience - whether it¿s in kicking a drug habit or changing one¿s criminal ways. I had long realized that my every act was wrong and criminal; yet I never thought of changing my ways. Aft
RodV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's kind of like a Jimmie Rodgers song in book form; hopping trains, "riding the rods," hobos, gambling, hold-ups, violent deaths, prison, duplicitous backstabbers, tried-and-true pals, pistol-packin' papas (and mamas); it's just about all in there. I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff if it's done well, and this is done very well, so I loved every minute of it. Some reviewers have called into question the veracity of Black's "autobiography," but to me it just doesn't matter whether he told the absolute truth as it happened or if there were some "stretchers," as Huck Finn would say, or even if he just made the whole damn thing up (which I doubt very much). There are truth and value in his words, and it's quite an entertaining and informative read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the true story of a career criminal and how he finally redeemed himself. This provides a window into the criminal world of the early 20th century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book though
chipstuart More than 1 year ago
B&N needs to fix this. it has been reported to them at least since january 2011.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago