Books: Examining the Ring of Truth

RING by Jonathan Yardley; Random House; 415 pages; $12.95

Are you lost daddy I arsked tenderly. Shut up he explained.

In those lines lie the reasons for Ring Lardner's ambiguous reputation. Forty-four years after his death, he remains one of the nation's most original humorists —and keenest literary disappointments. As his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, "Whatever Ring's achievement was, it fell short of the achievement he was capable of, and this because of a cynical attitude toward his work."

In this critical biography, Jonathan Yardley examines the achievement and concludes that Ring Lardner...

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