The following light verse comes from Lardner's first published book (as sole author), Bib Ballads. Some have said that this sentimental writing is best forgotten; they must not have kids. It is not great literature, but that, of course, was not the intention. I include it on this page because it is rarely reprinted, because I think it shows a warm side of Lardner, and because it seems to me to have aged well. I can imagine modern parents clipping some of these poems for their refrigerators.
A VISIT FROM YOUNG GLOOM
There's been a young
stranger at our house,
He stayed with us nearly
He cried when he
couldn't have something;
He stormed when his
meals weren't ready,
He's gone, and the child
we are fond of
AN APPRECIATIVE AUDIENCE
My son, I wish that is
I wouldn't have to rack
I'd merely have to make
HIS SENSE OF HUMOR
Perhaps in some respects
You drop my slippers in
You open up the
Since he began to talk
Why waste the breath
required to say,
Why should one say,
"Please pass the bread,"
Why "I've been
riding on a train,"
Besides my little son's
An instant after some
But if, when I leave
home, I say that maybe
Ah, would I might lose
sight of things unpleasant:
|The Young Immigrunts||
respect, this humorous piece is a parody of The
Young Visitors, a book supposedly written
by a young girl named Daisy Ashford (the best study of
this aspect of the book can be found in Ring Lardner,
Junior's The Lardners: My Family Remembered).
Many suspected at the time that the author of the
preface, J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame), was the true
author. Lardner's book is more than a simple parody of
another. Knowledge of the Ashford book adds to the
appreciation of Lardner's work, but the humor in The
Young Immigrunts can be (and
usually is) enjoyed without it.
The book is written from the point of view of Ring's son, Ring Junior, then called Bill. It gives the story of the real move East by the Lardner family (although Ring Jr. wasn't along for the ride in real life).
It was originally published in The Saturday Evening Post, 192 (31 January 1920). Later that year it was published in book form by Bobbs-Merrill. Since then, it has been included in WHAT OF IT? (1925), FIRST AND LAST (1935), PORTABLE LARDNER (1946), and The RING LARDNER READER (1963). I include two of the most frequently quoted passages below.
from Chapter 3
from Chapter 10
This excerpt comes from one of
Lardner's most famous short stories, "Alibi
Originally published in The Saturday Evening
Post (31 July 1915), this story has be
reprinted just about everywhere. It was released as a
movie by Warner Brothers in 1935. Here, I've included the
first couple pages. Notice the journalistic qualities of
the opening paragraph--concise, summative, engaging.
His right name was Frank X. Farrell, and I guess the X stood for "Excuse me." Because he never pulled a play, good or bad, on or off the field, without apologizin' for it.
"Alibi Ike" was the name Carey wished on him the first day he reported down South. O' course we all cut out the "Alibi" part of it right away for the fear he would overhear it and bust somebody. But we called him "Ike" right to his face and the rest of it was understood by everybody on the club except Ike himself.
He ast me one time, he says: "What do you all call me Ike for? I ain't no Yid."
"Carey give you the name," I says. "It's his nickname for everybody he takes a likin' to."
"He mustn't have only a few friends then," says Ike. "I never heard him say 'Ike' to nobody else."
But I was goin' to tell you about Carey namin' him. We'd been workin' out two weeks and the pitchers was showin' somethin' when this bird joined us. His first day out he stood up there so good and took such a reef at the old pill that he had everyone lookin'. Then him and Carey was together in left field, catchin' fungoes, and it was after we was through for the day that Carey told me about him.
"What do you think of Alibi Ike?" ast Carey.
"Who's that?" I says.
"This here Farrell in the outfield," says Carey.
"He looks like he could hit," I says.
"Yes," says Carey, "but he can't hit near as good as he can apologize."
Then Carey went on to tell me what Ike had been pullin' out there. He'd dropped the first fly ball that was hit to him and told Carey his glove wasn't broke in good yet, and Carey says the glove could easy of been Kid Gleason's gran'father. He made a whale of a catch out o' the next one and Carey says "Nice work!" or somethin' like that, but Ike says he could of caught the ball with his back turned only he slipped when he started after it and, besides that, the air currents fooled him.
"I thought you done well to get to the ball," says Carey.
"I ought to been settin' under it," says Ike.
"What did you hit last year?" Carey ast him.
"I had malaria most o' the season," says Ike. "I wound up with .356."
"Where would I have to go to get malaria?" says Carey, but Ike didn't wise up.
I and Carey and him set at the same table together for supper. It took him half an hour longer'n us to eat because he had to excuse himself every time he lifted his fork.
"Doctor told me I needed starch," he'd say, and then toss a shoveful o' potatoes into him. Or, "They ain't much meat on one o' these chops,"he'd tell us, and grab another one. Or he'd say "Nothin' like onions for a cold," and then he'd dip into the perfumery.
"Better try that apple sauce," says Carey. "It'll help your malaria."
"Whose malaria?" says Ike. He'd forgot already why he didn't only hit .356 last year.