- Title : YOU CAN’T WIN – Jack Black
- ASIN : B0BPGMWD63
- Publisher : Notoir Books (December 6, 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 392 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8367277821
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.89 x 8 inches
You Can’t Win was originally written as an anti-crime book and cautionary tale. as a result, it is one of those rare cult books that’s a riveting read and hard to put down. It is a virtual encyclopedia of the techniques in use by hardened criminals as well as a glossary of underworld slang. The book has been praised for its vivid descriptions of life on the margins of society, as well as for its insights into the psychology of criminals and the workings of the criminal justice system. There is enough in the book to satisfy even the most critical connoisseurs of true crime- hobo- or prison literature.
Jack Black’s real name was actually John Griffith London, but he used the pseudonym “Jack Black” for this book and others he wrote. Jack Black (or John Griffith London) was a late 19th century/ early 20th century hobo and professional burglar, living out the dying age of the Wild West. After that “career” ended, he wrote a memoir or sketched autobiography where in he describes his days on the road and life as an outlaw. This is his amazing life story, filled with petty thievery, narrow escapes, prison breaks, and hobo jungles. Black wrote this while he was serving a prison sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas, and he used a typewriter that he had stolen from the prison library.
As a result we have a classic of American prison literature. It offers an insider’s look at transience and crime in Depression Era America. This truly unique book is a must-read for fans of Bukowski and Fante. It is probably best known as William S. Burrough’s favorite book, one he admitted lifting big chunks of from memory for his first novel, Junky. Also Bob Dylan, and Hunter S. Thompson were heavily influenced by it. Highly recommended to anyone interested in true crime, history, biography, and honest, if very exaggerated and somewhat romanticized, Yankee grit.
This edition of You can’t win also includes an afterword where Jack Black tells what came of him. After he eventually wore out the outlaw life and washed up in San Francisco, where he wrote this book and reinvented himself.
In the years since its publication, “You Can’t Win” has become a cult classic, and it is widely regarded as one of the best books ever written about the criminal underworld.