Jack Black (author)


Jack Black (author)

Jack Black was a late 19th century/early 20th century hobo and professional burglar, living out the dying age of the Wild West. He wrote "You Can't Win", a memoir or sketched autobiography describing his days on the road and life as an honorable outlaw. Black's book was written as an anti-crime book urging criminals to go straight but is also his statement of belief in the futility of prisons and the criminal justice system, hence the title of the book. Jack Black was writing from experience, having spent 20 years as a traveling criminal and offers extremely riveting tales of being a cross-country stick-up man, home burglar, petty thief and opium fiend.

Jack Black is an essentially anonymous figure (even his actual name is uncertain) who is recognised through association with William S. Burroughs. Although his philosophy on life was especially influential to Burroughs, who associated with similar characters in his early adulthood and mirrored the style of "You Can't Win" with his first published book, "Junkie", Black's writings also had a profound effect on the writings and lives of all the Beat Generation.

Jack Black eventually composed essays on prison reform and was also rumored to have received a stipend of $150 dollars a week to draft a screenplay titled "Salt Chunk Mary", based around the infamous vagabond advocate and ally of the same name in "You Can't Win". The play flopped, although he was able to attain some amount of popularity, which subsided quickly. He died during the Great Depression due to a drowning, widely believed to be a suicide.


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