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Happy Days: Mencken's Autobiography: 1880-1892 (Maryland Paperback Bookshelf) (Volume 1) Paperback – June 19, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A book to be read twice a year by young and old, as long as life lasts.

(Atlantic)

A chronicle of childhood for which truth and a sense of balance have long been clamoring. To say it is a readable book is an impertinence in the case of Mr. Mencken.

(New York Times)

Probably no man alive more guilelessly enjoys hearing himself talk on paper, or is better able to infect others with the pleasure, than Henry Louis Mencken... Good old Mencken bravura at its brassiest. For all its mannerisms and unsubtlties the Mencken vernacular is extraordinarily vigorous and fine.

(Time)

The basis of the book's delight is that the Baltimore of the days when Cleveland was president and soft crabs sold for two and a fraction cents a piece... is miraculously seen again through the eyes of a secure young savage of the more fortunate bourgeoisie.

(Saturday Review)

Happy Days enjoys a throne of honors atop that vaunted heap of letters... Gleeful, doxological passages on the glories of an uncomplicated young life crowd this first volume.

(Brendan O'Donnell Ex Libris)

About the Author

Born in Baltimore in 1880, H. L. Mencken remained a lifelong resident and became one of the city's most famous sons. Ever home to controversy, his column for the Baltimore Sun earned him a national reputation. He died in his rowhouse on Union Square in 1956.

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Product Details

  • Series: Maryland Paperback Bookshelf (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (June 19, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801853389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801853388
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,959,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
H.L. Mencken temporarily resigned from his job as a newspaper columnist before the Second World War, deeming his political opinions too controversial for print. In the ensuing interregnal period, he focused his attention on writing a series of memoirs, which later turned into a three volume autobiography, of which Happy Days is the first part. In its pages, he relates his early fascination with police officers, food, literature and pedagogues, subjects that forever interested him. He also, astonishingly, recounts successful athletic exploits (astonishing because he grew into a rotund and stumpy man, who considered sports "nonsensical"). Readers familiar with Mencken's caustic columns will enjoy learning how his strong opinions were formed. Readers unfamiliar with him should still find this book highly palatable, for it is colorfully written, interfusing "the language of the free lunch counter" with latin phrases and searing adjectives. This memoir is as well-written as later newspaper columnist Russell Baker's "Growing Up," but is a hell of a lot funnier.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Happy Days is delightful. It covers 12 years in the youth of H. L. Mencken, one of my favorite authors. It takes place in Baltimore, and is a treasure house of information of the living standard at that time in that place. Mencken has a marvelous vocabulary, and he is of German extraction, so my one complaint about the book is that he places German words in the text without explanation, but they can usually be figured out by the context. The adventures of he and his younger brother are hilarious, and I couldn't put the book down. His memory is phenomenal, even down to the price of everyday purchases, which are tiny when compared with today. Mencken's writing ability is second to none. To be able to fill a book with only twelve years of one's youth is miraculous.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone. You will find a delightful read, which will leave beautiful memories of the author.
Bob Owens Oct.3, 2014
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This covers age 0-12 in HL Mencken's life. It's composed of light observations and situations of his childhood.

For all his fame as a writer and thinker I had expected at minimum an engaging book, if not greatly entertaining and insightful.

Sad to say I was really let down - somehow the humor wasn't very witty or humorous, the observations were rather bland, even his descriptions of his daily life weren't very interesting. Really I wonder how such an intelligent person failed to reveal those qualities in this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent!
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