Book: Masscult and Midcult: Essays Against the American Grain


I was pretty underwhelmed by this set of essays. At least judging by this single collection, MacDonald seems to have been a latter-day H.L. Mencken, only not as good a writer. Like Mencken he was an unapologetic elitist and a sneerer at popular culture. There are even parallels with their musical taste. Mencken found no value in jazz but MacDonald did, jazz having been digested for him by the time he got to it. But MacDonald couldn’t hear anything good in what he called “Rock’n’Roll”.

But I’d much rather read Henry Louis than Dwight. Even when Mencken was wrong, which was a lot, he was still wonderfully entertaining. I found MacDonald to be a bore when right, and simply a boor when wrong.

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