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January 03 , 2010

Heathen Days


In the third volume of his autobiography, H. L. Mencken looks back on his life and declares it "very busy and excessively pleasant." He imparts the impressive education he received from Hoggie Unglebower, the best dog trainer in Christendom, and the survival techniques he employed at Baltimore Polytechnic, where he learned to protect his fingers from power tools and his character from the influence of algebra.
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My Life as Author and Editor

H. L. Mencken stipulated that this memoir remain sealed in a vault for thirty-five years after his death. For good reason: My Life as Author and Editor is so telling and uproariously opinionated that is might have provoked a storm of libel suits. As he recounts his career as a critic, essayist, and editor of the ground-breaking magazine…

Mencken also describes the club boxing matches he attended, watching as the combatants in this gentleman's sport genteelly broke both bones and the law. And he recounts his voyage across the Atlantic that he, unlike Columbus, paid for himself. In Naples, he admired the garbage that seemed to have accumulated since Roman times. In Tunis, he searched for the ruins of Carthage. In the Holy Land, he looked for the ruins of Gomorrah, the Hollywood of antiquity, in hopes of finding evidence that the city's unparalleled reputation for wickedness was simply exaggerated.

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