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Ring Lardner (and Grantland)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by inthesuburbs, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    From the Daily Beast book review:
  2. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Ring Lardner was crotchety as hell. I don't like his writing at all.
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Ring Lardner was a messed-up person. He was also a noted figure in American literature, let alone American sportswriting. They teach Lardner in school, but not Rice, who was an excellent sportswriter, in the mannered style of his day. Come to think of it, all days, even this one, have mannered styles. Maybe that's why Simmons, whose style is certainly mannered, named the site after Rice.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    They teach both in school.

  5. How so?
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I am sorely tempted to reply "Shut up, he explained," as a tribute, but Lardner was a serious alcoholic even by the standards of 20th century American literature.
  7. Glenn Stout

    Glenn Stout Member

    Jonathan Yardley's bio "Ring" is required reading, and a helpful intro. In many ways Lardner is hard to access from the present - his short stories are very much of a time, and if you don't know that time, are almost impenetrable. Sadly, his baseball reportage, which is far more accessible and often just as entertaining, if not more so, is essentially uncollected and lives almost only on microfilm. Truth is, hardly anyone has actually read his sportswriting, which is unfortunate. For a time you had he and Damon Runyon both writing competing, syndicated "World Serious" game stories, each working the high wire, looking the other in the eye while they were doing it. Highly entertaining.

    They teach Rice as an example of a genre of sportswriting; they teach Lardner as literature.

    I think his introduction to his book "How to Write Short Stories" is one of the funniest things ever written.
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Boy, Lardner sure is getting a lot of publicity this week. Three days before that Daily Beast essay ran, this one appeared on The Atlantic's website:


    At any rate, I'm glad to see him get his due. "You Know Me, Al" is still hilarious, even 100 years later. If you've never read anything from him, read that book first.

    Glenn said it's hard to access his writing from the modern day, and I'd agree with that. But I think his newspaper writing can often be harder to penetrate than his short stories. There are a TON of had-to-be-there inside jokes in his Chicago baseball coverage, especially from "In The Wake of the News," delivered without a lot of context even at the time. He toned it down a little bit for his nationally syndicated column, but the local stuff sometimes leaves me at a loss. Still, once you do get it, you realize how brilliant he was. There was no one else like him.

    Here's some excerpts from his work: http://www.tridget.com/excerpts.htm.

    Some of y'all on this board will appreciate this humorous "FAQ from sports writers to sports fans" from 1913: http://www.tridget.com/wake/7jun13.htm. Some things don't change ...

    Or this little ditty on Nebraska trying to get admitted to the Big Ten ... again, in 1913: http://www.tridget.com/wake/8jun13.htm

    Lardner was always sardonic, even in his youth, but he did famously become more cynical after the 1919 World Series scandal broke his heart. His writing in the 1920s until the end of his life is definitely crotchety. He ain't the first nor the last ...
  9. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Buck, Did he actually sing "I'm forever throwing ballgames" during the series? Actually what were his writings like during the series, and then in the aftermath?
  10. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I have a pretty high reverence for the work of many old-timers, but I have read Lardner before and after the 1919 World Series and can't stand his style. He was like a more articulate (insert pompous moralizing modern columnist here). He was click-baiting before clicks were a thing.

    Lardner would have just hated the designated hitter.

    I should add that I've never read anything but his sports writing. I am sure I would prefer his fiction, but why bother?
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Life's too short to read authors you don't like. I won't read another word from Jane Austen, either.

    EDIT: But I would disagree that Lardner was anything like a modern-day Heyman or Morosi (or insert your favorite moralizing national columnist here.) He was an equal-opportunity cynic, and he made fun of the old-guard baseball purists as much or more often than he did the young idiot ballplayers. At least until he got old, too, and then he was just a Debbie Downer on everyone.

    He certainly wasn't a progressive, and I don't know how he would have felt about the DH, but he was by no means a tsk-tsk moralist.
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    He claimed that he did, and Hugh Fullerton vouched for it. But Lardner said (and I'll have to look up the source on this) he sang it at a nightclub/tavern in Kentucky, not on the train to Chicago. Certainly not in front of the players, which would have gotten him punched in the mouth. The incident sounds much more like a joke among writers at the bar.

    As for his World Series columns, here, read them yourself: http://www.dropbox.com/sh/q7j009arcugqa2i/_VtK9xxaBK

    Nothing earth-shattering, and a lot of the "juicy parts" that are remembered today seem more salacious in hindsight (such as the bit about Cicotte's sore arm on Oct. 5.) But it's still interesting to read and get a feel for what the Series was like to experience at the time. It definitely helps to read one of the gamers first to know what happened on the field, though. His joke about the fourth inning being eliminated won't make sense unless you see how the Reds scored in Games 1 and 2.
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