Blog #37

Gregory MacAllister, the discursive critic of the Academy novels, was inspired by Henry Mencken. That doesn’t mean he writes anywhere close to Mencken’s level, though I tried to bring off an impersonation. But the bar is simply too high. In 1956, I read about Mencken for the first time in Life Magazine. He was then in his final days. The article included some quotations that apparently affected me so much that I told my mom and dad about him. I didn’t mention the contents in detail. Mencken was the ultimate cynic. He didn’t think highly of the vast majority of human beings. We’re all idiots. More or less. My parents were always happy to encourage me to read, and they surprised me by deliveri

Blog #36

Edgar Rice Burroughs was among the first authors I ever read. Only one Tarzan book, I think. But I loved John Carter, and I got thoroughly hooked later by Carson Napier. In the forties, the notion that Venus was covered with a vast jungle seemed perfectly reasonable. I can still recall how disappointed I was when we got the truth. At about the same time Conan the Barbarian showed up in my life. I don’t recall which book, but I had it with me on a train from Philadelphia to Wildwood, NJ, going on vacation with my family. Needless to say, when we arrived my parents had a hard time getting me to put the book down long enough to get off the train. A few years later, I was in Atlantic City with