cover image The Diary 0f H.L. Mencken

The Diary 0f H.L. Mencken

H. L. Mencken. Knopf Publishing Group, $30 (476pp) ISBN 978-0-394-56877-5

Hitherto unpublished, Mencken's diary, dashed off in spare moments between 1930 and 1948, discloses new things about his own tranquil, complacent life and about Dreiser, Hergesheimer, Sinclair Lewis, among other writers and prominent Americans. Fecher, a Mencken scholar in Baltimore, annotates entries that reveal Mencken the author, journalist, family man, friend, neighbor, eccentric humorist and curmudgeon. The diary displays Mencken's patronizing superiority toward blacks, an ugly attitude toward Jews, a ``maniacal'' hatred of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and sweeping generalizations about everything: ``When authors quarrel with their publishers I usually sympathize with the publishers, for they are nearly always in the right.'' Delightfully compulsive reading. (Jan.)