In the early decades of the twentieth century, newspaperman and humorist Ring Lardner (1885–1933) made America laugh with his hilarious depictions of odd characters in the sporting world, Tin Pan Alley, and Hollywood. His first great success was You Know Me Al, a fictional series of letters from a popular baseball hero to his friend, slyly revealing the letter writer as a crude, conceited, semiliterate, self-deceiving boob.
The letters, created while Lardner was writing a sports column for The Chicago Tribune, first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post and were later published in book form in 1918. You Know Me Al reveals Lardner as a satirical master at the peak of his form: a fine albeit misanthropic storyteller with a superb feel for the niceties of characters and speech and a sure instinct for provoking laughter.
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