Memories of infancy, early schooling, Baltimore provender, "The Larval Stage of a Bookworm," and other autobiographical essays culled from Happy Days
(1940), Newspaper Days
(1941), and Heathen Days
(1943) and splendidly—which is to say buoyantly—introduced by Edward L. Galligan. Readers are alerted to Mencken's relish of idiosyncracies, his "admiration for competence," his "delight in language"; warned of his racism and reminded of his irreverence (which attracted Richard Wright); and then turned loose with this "genuine razzle-dazzle of a book." Here is Mencken, at 18, applying for his first newspaper job, disappointed and elated at being told "to drop in again of an evening." "I came back, you may be sure—and found him missing. . . . The next night I was there again—and found him too busy to notice me. And so the night following, and the next, and the next. To make an end, this went on for four weeks, night in and night out, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. A tremendous blizzard came down upon Baltimore. . . but I hoofed it ever hopefully to the Herald office, and then hoofed it sadly home. There arrived eventually. . . the evening of Thursday, February 23, 1899. I found Max reading copy, and for a few minutes he did not see me. Then his eyes lifted, and he said casually: 'Go out to Govanstown, and see if anything is happening there. We are supposed to have a Govanstown correspondent, but he hasn't been heard from for six days!" (Continued on page 136.) Alfred A. Knopf writes—in the companion centenary volume, On Mencken, edited by John Dorsey (above)—that the three Days books did not sell well (they are now o.p.); at the very least, these two new works should be mutually reinforcing. There is entertainment to spare in Mencken, and lots of snazzy writing.
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