You Can't Win

  • by Jack Black
  • Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark
  • 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The favorite book of William Burroughs. A journey into the hobo underworld, freight hopping around the still Wild West, becoming a highwayman and member of the yegg (criminal) brotherhood, getting hooked on opium, doing stints in jail or escaping, often with the assistance of crooked cops or judges. Our lost history revived.
With an introduction by Burroughs. A BookSense 77 selection.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Original Hobo Narrative

This is the real deal: the original Depression-era train-hopper hobo narrative. It’s so poignant and beautifully written, it never went out of print.

Jack Black's clean, uncluttered prose— and complete lack of self pity— make it easy to feel present in the book to this day.

When William S. Burroughs came along, years after this book was published, he wrote it was “the best book I ever read.” His intro to this edition "You Can’t Win" helped it become the cult classic of a new generation. You can really see Black’s influence on the Beats.

"You Can't Win" in one of the best memoirs I’ve read: freight-hopping, a brotherhood of theives, drugs, prison—and, profoundly, librarians.

—Rip-roaring introduction by Burroughs, included!
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- Susie "I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South.""

Wonderful tale about crime after resconstruction

If you could sum up You Can't Win in three words, what would they be?

What is success?


What was one of the most memorable moments of You Can't Win?

The author is telling the story of the first time he was arrested and stood trial. While the jury was deliberating, he made a bold escape only to later find out the jury found him not guilty.


What about Bernard Setaro Clark’s performance did you like?

His voice acting was excellent; He brought distinction to each character without over doing it, captured the slang of the period and found a rhythm that made listening a pleasure.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed often, and felt it often as the author hit close to home.


Any additional comments?

A wonderful book that explores a time in history that I've never been familiar with. It captured the slang, the sub-cultures and attitudes of the time.

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- Richard

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-16-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios