Newspaper pieces from the most famous journalist of the 1920s.
Ring Lardner (1885-1933), well-known for his much-anthologized short story “Haircut,” was a prolific journalist whose work was carried by 150 newspapers across the country as well as by prominent magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and Colliers. Between 1913 and 1919, he wrote more than 1,600 columns for the Chicago Tribune and between 1919 and 1927, produced more than 500 syndicated pieces. Throughout his career, he covered a wide range of topics, including political commentary, social satire, and, most especially, sports. Despite this output, his journalism has appeared in only two collections, an oversight that Rapoport (editor: From Black Sox to Three-Peats: A Century of Chicago’s Best Sportswriting, 2013, etc.), a former Chicago Sun-Times and Los Angeles Daily News sports columnist, aims to correct with this abundant compendium. Although he provides introductions to each of the sections and helpful endnotes, much of what occupied Lardner is completely out of date for contemporary readers. There are sections on baseball, football, boxing, the America’s Cup, golf, and horse racing, all of which refer to ephemeral events long past. Of possible historical interest are Lardner’s views about Prohibition, World War I (in which he did not serve) and the contentious peace talks that followed, and various political conventions and elections. He made fun of the growing interest in radio, until he got one for his family; and of suburban life in general. Unfortunately, his characteristic lowbrow style—phonetic spelling and bad grammar—is likely to elicit winces. Cynical and irreverent, his pieces on politicians (he calls them “simps,”) are sometimes-amusing, but less so are his opinions about women (“girls will be girls,” he remarks in a piece about his wife’s desire to redo the decor of their house) and marriage (“Why Not a Husband’s Union?” is the title of one piece). The editor could well have left out Lardner’s doggerel poetry.
A commemoration of a writer who wryly observed his generation.