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July 23 , 2010

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 Smart Set, Mencken brings us face to face with the literary aristocracy of his day, from the dour womanizer Theodore Dreiser to F. Scott Fitzgerald, drowning his gifts in alcohol. Here, too, are the hacks, poseurs, and bohemian crackpots who flocked around them. Most of all, here is Mencken himself, defying censors and Prohibition agents with equal aplomb in an age when literature was a contact sport.

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