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The Best Short Stories: 25 Stories from America's Foremost Humorist

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A classic for many years, this is a collection of 25 stories by "America's foremost humorist of the 1920's and one of the country's best fiction writers" ( New York Daily News). A sportswriter by trade, Larnder had a superb ear for regional speech peculiarities and was dearly loved for his humor. A classic for many years, this is a collection of 25 stories by "America's foremost humorist of the 1920's and one of the country's best fiction writers" ( New York Daily News). A sportswriter by trade, Larnder had a superb ear for regional speech peculiarities and was dearly loved for his humor.


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A classic for many years, this is a collection of 25 stories by "America's foremost humorist of the 1920's and one of the country's best fiction writers" ( New York Daily News). A sportswriter by trade, Larnder had a superb ear for regional speech peculiarities and was dearly loved for his humor. A classic for many years, this is a collection of 25 stories by "America's foremost humorist of the 1920's and one of the country's best fiction writers" ( New York Daily News). A sportswriter by trade, Larnder had a superb ear for regional speech peculiarities and was dearly loved for his humor.

30 review for The Best Short Stories: 25 Stories from America's Foremost Humorist

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ensiform

    [Random Read. 33, Stories.] Twenty-five of sportswriter-turned-satirist Ring Lardener's best stories, including "Alibi Ike," "Haircut," "Horseshoes," "The Love Nest," and others. Jimmy Breslin's blurb on the front of this edition hails these stories as "the work of a stupendous genius... only good for another century or so," and unfortunately I think that's actually pretty accurate. While there are some gems here, like "Alibi Ike," "There Are Smiles" (about a traffic cop smitten with a lovely spe [Random Read. 33, Stories.] Twenty-five of sportswriter-turned-satirist Ring Lardener's best stories, including "Alibi Ike," "Haircut," "Horseshoes," "The Love Nest," and others. Jimmy Breslin's blurb on the front of this edition hails these stories as "the work of a stupendous genius... only good for another century or so," and unfortunately I think that's actually pretty accurate. While there are some gems here, like "Alibi Ike," "There Are Smiles" (about a traffic cop smitten with a lovely speed-demon of a driver) and "Who Dealt?" even the best of these stories palls with repetition and a dated delivery. The stories simply aren't made for a modern sensibility. The twist in "Haircut," for example, is seen coming for a good while and provides no additional payoff. It's funny how the work of Mark Twain and Shakespeare can be so universal and modern, while work of some other eras can seem somehow frozen in time. Mostly, my reaction to the incidents and dialogue in these stories was one of bemusement. And while I'm no expert of the era, I am someone who knows a flivver from flapper, The Thin Man from The 39 Steps. Even so, I often was at a loss as to whether we, the readers, are meant to interpret something as poignant, ironic, or funny. If a character calls poet Robert Service highbrow, is that meant as a commentary on that character's taste or lack of it, or is it a joke? Likewise, when a character repeats something corny and calls it "simply a scream," is it meant to be a comment on their lack of sophistication? Probably, but it's not always clear. If a character recites a lot of corny jokes, like the caddy does when the women play in "A Caddy's Diary," were these jokes once fresh and droll and meant to be delivered as such, or are they meant to show that the caddy is a lunkhead? That's not to mention all the bridge and golf and baseball play-by-plays, nor the references to characters and things long forgotten such as Amos Alonzo Stagg. In all, while I admire the craft at work in these stories, to me they're simply too much of their era to be wholeheartedly enjoyed today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill Mackin

    Not as great as Cheever, but the stories are entertaining.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wambulus

    He was an sports writer before getting seriously into stories, so there are a few too many sports-related ones I could care less about. I mean, all are very excellent character studies, deviant and dark, it's just that I can only take so many anachronistic baseball speak circa 1950s, 60s. Excellent writing for a dead guy. He was an sports writer before getting seriously into stories, so there are a few too many sports-related ones I could care less about. I mean, all are very excellent character studies, deviant and dark, it's just that I can only take so many anachronistic baseball speak circa 1950s, 60s. Excellent writing for a dead guy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anatoly

    The story is “Who Dealt?” by Ring Lardner and was written in the first person. The wife was talking, during a bridge game, about her life and the lives around her. She pretends to be seen for readers as a poor fool and maybe for the others who have to live with her. However, her narration is much deeper because of her innocent thoughts. The author describes the society, relationships within the family and with friends in a lot of detail. The story is full of colloquial phrases which can be inter The story is “Who Dealt?” by Ring Lardner and was written in the first person. The wife was talking, during a bridge game, about her life and the lives around her. She pretends to be seen for readers as a poor fool and maybe for the others who have to live with her. However, her narration is much deeper because of her innocent thoughts. The author describes the society, relationships within the family and with friends in a lot of detail. The story is full of colloquial phrases which can be interesting for English learners. For example; to stay on the wagon - a colloquialism generally referring to an alcohol abuser's sobering up time; to go the limit in everything - to be extravagant; to rave about something - to give wildly enthusiastic praise for something; to worm out of something - to try and get information from someone that they are trying to keep secret. The story is good for readers who like descriptive stories, without definite plot, where life is presented as it is. This is a link to the text of the story: https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    While well written and somewhat interesting, I just don't like stories about people with obnoxious personal traits. And once the author has set up the situation with someone who's mean, rude, overbearing, or a bit slow and is picked on by everyone, we get another 10 pages of that smashed full force into your face. I don't find that entertaining. While well written and somewhat interesting, I just don't like stories about people with obnoxious personal traits. And once the author has set up the situation with someone who's mean, rude, overbearing, or a bit slow and is picked on by everyone, we get another 10 pages of that smashed full force into your face. I don't find that entertaining.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    Entertaining stories and style. A bit dated in references and language and some cringeworthy racial references such as "darkey." Still, it's worth reading just to know more about Ring Lardner and to get a sense of life 100 years ago. Entertaining stories and style. A bit dated in references and language and some cringeworthy racial references such as "darkey." Still, it's worth reading just to know more about Ring Lardner and to get a sense of life 100 years ago.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elio

    Are you lost, Daddy? I asked tenderly. Shut up, he explained.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quiet

    Liked just about this whole collection. Just the five stories before the last two fell utterly flat for me, but there's still 300 pages worth of great stories here. Despite the age of these writings, I was chuckling like a fool for most of them. Very masculine-oriented; even the stories that deal with women are handled in a male-oriented way, showcasing in particular the chatter-craze of girls and, of course, the preference for money rather than love from a man. But it was the male-focused stories Liked just about this whole collection. Just the five stories before the last two fell utterly flat for me, but there's still 300 pages worth of great stories here. Despite the age of these writings, I was chuckling like a fool for most of them. Very masculine-oriented; even the stories that deal with women are handled in a male-oriented way, showcasing in particular the chatter-craze of girls and, of course, the preference for money rather than love from a man. But it was the male-focused stories that did me best, and they deal mostly with either baseball or boxing, but a good lot deal with business-men also. There's a rupture in each story that strikes at the responsibility of American life, and posits these intensely individualistic men in scenarios they're either tricked into continuing, or continue in a grossly egotistical way that is both aggravating and absolutely inspiring. The large focus is on some sort of "talent," and the stories try to figure them out as being talent of luck, or unfairness. You're either a "Horseshoe" and haven't earned it, or you're a bull-headed "Champion" who needs a wallop in the mouth but no soul is going to go messing up so a gravy train. Either way, the story is going to end with as a rather vapid comedy, or a homely tragedy (save a few dark ones). Really loved this. Will absolutely be looking up more from Ring Lardner, and even though I'm not a sports person I found myself enthusiastic about boxing and baseball after reading this. Might just go expanding my tastes now!

  9. 4 out of 5

    M Rothenbuhler

    Although I blurbed over the sports oriented stories (baseball and boxing), I found the other stories interesting. It was noteable to me to observe what is still the subject of short stories today: (despair, obnoxiousness, devotion, heartbreak, frustration, cruelty, overcoming adversity, love, the shallowness of others) and what is not: (Lardner's stories do not mention sexual sins or obsessions, have no profanity that I can remember, do not address drug abuse other than alcohol, do not obsess on b Although I blurbed over the sports oriented stories (baseball and boxing), I found the other stories interesting. It was noteable to me to observe what is still the subject of short stories today: (despair, obnoxiousness, devotion, heartbreak, frustration, cruelty, overcoming adversity, love, the shallowness of others) and what is not: (Lardner's stories do not mention sexual sins or obsessions, have no profanity that I can remember, do not address drug abuse other than alcohol, do not obsess on bad parenting, include no rape, mention other races rarely and only as "darkies," and assume traditional sex roles; and there is an absence of tv/technology which seems to be mostly replaced with cribbage, bridge, and drinking!). As a period study alone, reading the stories was valuable. His use of misspellings by less literate subjects was annoying, but I suppose it had its purpose. Sports stories bore me, that's not his fault. He writes rather tersely, and I did not find myself very much in touch with his world view. The plots and characters were interesting enough to make me finish it out. Some characters were more memorable and unique than others. I particularly enjoyed some of the couples and their co-dependent but ultimately positive relationships.

  10. 5 out of 5

    William

    This is fantastic. It's charming as hell. All the stories are about dopey baseball players getting tricked into telling old fashion humor tales about baseball by sportwriters or about friends visiting friends who don't like their friends. Then there are a few about cheating in golf, a few love letter compilations that end in a break up, and the story Holden Caulfield mentions in Catcher about the traffic cop that falls in love with the speeding driver. The humor is old fashioned, but it's charmi This is fantastic. It's charming as hell. All the stories are about dopey baseball players getting tricked into telling old fashion humor tales about baseball by sportwriters or about friends visiting friends who don't like their friends. Then there are a few about cheating in golf, a few love letter compilations that end in a break up, and the story Holden Caulfield mentions in Catcher about the traffic cop that falls in love with the speeding driver. The humor is old fashioned, but it's charming and still makes you laugh even if it's a little hokie. Great stuff. Highly recommend going through a story or two.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael Beal

    Hailing from Niles, Michigan, Lardner grew up in a hotbed sports idolatry. As such, Lardner's environs made for the perfect sociological climate for "You Know Me Al," the comedic rendering of an arrogant, money-seeking athlete who often has a couple screws loose. Almost always funny, Lardner is at his best, though, in venturing into the humanistic, as in "There are Smiles," a bone-chilling account of happenstance New York City courtship between a traffic cop and a young woman. Hailing from Niles, Michigan, Lardner grew up in a hotbed sports idolatry. As such, Lardner's environs made for the perfect sociological climate for "You Know Me Al," the comedic rendering of an arrogant, money-seeking athlete who often has a couple screws loose. Almost always funny, Lardner is at his best, though, in venturing into the humanistic, as in "There are Smiles," a bone-chilling account of happenstance New York City courtship between a traffic cop and a young woman.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Couldn't get through it, writing was okay but didn't get the stories :( Couldn't get through it, writing was okay but didn't get the stories :(

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    The best stories are a little too mordant to get my real affection but they used to make me laugh (The Golden Honeymoon, e.g.) Haven't rad them for a couple of decades now. The best stories are a little too mordant to get my real affection but they used to make me laugh (The Golden Honeymoon, e.g.) Haven't rad them for a couple of decades now.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Reading for the pleasure of reading: 'nuff said. Thoroughly enjoyable. Reading for the pleasure of reading: 'nuff said. Thoroughly enjoyable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wendi Enright

    Original copyright 1915, version 1957. According to the write up, Lardner died in 1933 and "is now recognized as one of the bitterest satirists in American literature." No wonder I loved it! Original copyright 1915, version 1957. According to the write up, Lardner died in 1933 and "is now recognized as one of the bitterest satirists in American literature." No wonder I loved it!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Undulator

  17. 4 out of 5

    Diarmuid

  18. 4 out of 5

    PHILIP DAVIS

  19. 5 out of 5

    ugh

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arion92

  21. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

  22. 5 out of 5

    EB Fitzsimons

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lori Claxton

  26. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  28. 4 out of 5

    Christopher J.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Plourde

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Stone

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