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Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Main Street (edition 1989)

by Sinclair Lewis

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Title:Main Street
Authors:Sinclair Lewis
Info:San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1989], c1948. v, 486 p. ; 22 cm.
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Main Street by Sinclair Lewis


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I know it's a classic and everything, and I love the classics, but man, oh man... I couldn't even get the used bookstore to take it - they already had several dust-covered copies. I'm sorry Mr. Lewis (R.I.P.), this was the first book of yours I ever read and I'm thinking it is the last as well.

( )
  Garrison0550 | May 10, 2016 |
Makes me think of the lyric:

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that's probably where they'll bury me
( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
This book was consistent with Lewis' other work and the same conformist pressures presented in Babbitt are also presented here. Lewis uses the small town setting to discuss socialism, feminism, labor movements, pseudo-intellectuals, and religious intolerance. He sides with the non-conformists, as in his other books, showing the hypocrisy and mean spiritedness of restrictive social systems. Nobody is particularly happy in the end but people are settled into a sort of normalcy. The clear details that made up life in this town were interesting, though at times it is clear that the gossips and negative folks are always going to triumph over Carol and it becomes unnecessary to further reinforce this point.

If only one of Lewis' books were going to be read, I would recommend Babbitt instead as it shows the typical Lewis themes in a more cohesive novel; however, Main Street is also worth reading to continue to build an understanding of the world as interpreted by Lewis. ( )
  karmiel | Aug 21, 2015 |
I am so glad I listened to the audiobook as read by Lloyd James and didn't attempt to read a print copy. I think reading it would have been the perfect cure if I was suffering from insomnia. The story isn't bad but it tends to float from the mundane to the mundane. The lead character, Carol ("Carrie") is a rather insufferable woman and I refuse to accept that her husband Will would put up with as much as he does, but that is just my personal opinion. Even with those negative comments, this story is an excellent portrayal of small town America - or small town anywhere - during the 1910's. Lewis perfectly captures that small town culture, the resistance of the town folks to change or to any nonconformity to their ways. That is the hardest nut to crack: a population where everyone knows everyone and has a set of beliefs, values and prejudices that should not be tampered with. Well-meaning and patriotic but narrow-minded. The fact that the town folks have as much to teach Carol as Carol has to teach them seems to be the big divide that never gets crossed. Each party stays more or less entrenched in its own 'camp', trying to get the other side to change/conform.

Overall, the story speaks to human nature and presents some interesting perspectives on topics of marriage, politics, socialism, capitalism and social/cultural dynamics but for me, I probably would have abandoned the book if I was reading it. I found it worked better as an audiobook playing in the background while I was out walking or working in the house, thanks in large part to James' ability to act out the story as he read it. ( )
  lkernagh | Jul 27, 2015 |
Carol grows up in a rather intellectual home, but without a mother. She attends college and takes a job as a librarian in St. Paul. After a time, she meets Dr. Will Kennicott. They marry and go to Gopher Prairie to live. Carol is young and naive, and more than a little self-important. She goes about trying to reform the town and meets with limited success. Carol is smart, but not socially savvy. She has ideas, but is totally unfocused and easily distracted. She thinks she wants to be a reformer but has no idea how to go about it, and really she just wants recognition. She is dissatisfied with her life, imagines something more, and latches onto whatever shiny new thing or person she thinks will give her what she wants. She looks down on people who don't want what she wants. I found her to be an annoying and unsympathetic character.

The only really sympathetic character in the story is Dr. Kennicott. He is a flawed, but sincere. He works hard, he tries to please Carol and he really does care for her. He cares enough to talk to her honestly about her attraction to Erik and to explain what her life will most likely be like, honestly assessing his ability to take care of her as higher than Erik's. He also allows her the freedom to try and work out what it is she really wants. In the end, the solution seems to be for her to grow up, learn to be grateful and carry on. Not a terribly satisfying end.

I have very mixed feelings about this novel. It wasn't hard to read, most of the time. Occasionally, Lewis steps away from his story and lectures the reader for a bit. I found it hard to give those pages my full attention. Aside from that, the story is engaging and the characters are very believable. Main Street is meant to be a satire of small town America. In this it succeeds very well and doesn't feel dated. At the same time, the satirical sketch of women who get an education and are only made dissatisfied with their lot in life as a result, that did not resonate with me at all.
  nittnut | Jun 5, 2015 |
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Ninety years after publication, Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street still resonates with readers ... The book became an immediate sensation. Biographer Mark Schorer called its publication “the most sensational event in twentieth-century American publishing history.” ... Lewis found a way to appeal to both those who were nostalgic for small town America and those who were dissatisfied with it.
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ToJames Branch CabellandJoseph Hergesheimer
First words
Chapter 1: On a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.
She had her freedom, and it was empty.
Not a matter of heroism. Matter of endurance...There's one attack you can make on it, perhaps the only kind that accomplishes anything anywhere; you can keep on looking at one thing after another in your home and church and bank, and ask why it is, and who first laid down the law that it had to be that way. If enough of us do this impolitely enough, then we'll become civilized in merely twenty thousand years or so, instead of having to wait the two hundred thousand years that my cynical anthropologist friends allow...easy, pleasant, lucrative home-work for wives: asking people to define their jobs. That's the most dangerous doctrine I know!
The tragedy of old age, which is not that it is less vigorous than youth, but that it is not needed by youth; that its love and prosy sageness, so important a few years ago, so gladly offered now, are rejected with laughter.
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Main Street was written by Sinclair Lewis, not Upton Sinclair, so you might want to correct the author on your book page.  Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451526821, Mass Market Paperback)

"Main Street" tells the tale of a big-city girl who marries a physician and settles in a small town in the Midwest, only to fall victim to the narrow-mindedness and unimaginative natures of the town's residents. Introduction by Thomas Mallon.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:45 -0400)

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A young woman has difficulty adjusting to life in a small town in Minnesota.

(summary from another edition)

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