Books: Monologue on a Bugle

HAPPY DAYS (1880-1892)— H. L Mencken—Knopf ($2.75).

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. Happy Days, his account of his childhood, is a set of 20 essays. They are as rosily extrovert a record of a human being's first twelve years as ever transcended fatuousness. They are also (with occasional slackenings) museum pieces in the good old Mencken bravura at its brassiest. For all its mannerisms and unsubtleties, the Mencken vernacular is extraordinarily vigorous and fine...

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