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HL Mencken

I had just two books on my Christmas wishlist, Andrew Graham-Dixon's biography of Caravaggio and a new essay collection on The Smiths, covering Manchester, Irish, Thatcherism and Catholicism (surely a library's worth?) I know I have this one secured, thanks to a sister. I may have to buy the former myself. But now there's also Prejudices, the six volume series of writings by H L Mencken, edited by Marion Rogers. Published by the Library of America it costs $70, whatever the sterling is. I doubt it will be in a public library here anytime soon, if at all, what with cuts left... Well, just left, it would seem, for which read 'humanities', (with the National Day of Action just yesterday that's a whole other blog). I know little of Mencken, but I am often drawn to a writer by learning something of their temperament or life first. Michael Dirda in the current issue of the TLS furnished me with the entree. Prejudices? Mencken had a few. He was the 'scourge of the "booboisie"' and apparently 'produced exuberant, gorgeous prose of such gusto that carnival barkers and fundamentalist preachers might have learnt from him'. Who could not be intrigued? Prejudices are essays on American literature, culture and politics. Like many a great writer, commentator, lampooner of the "booboisie", Mencken was an auto-didact, having left school without going onto further education. In the vocabulary stakes he would gave given Will Self a run for his money. Now I needs to count me some dollars, guy!


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