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Main Street: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Carol Milford is How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Carol Milford is a liberal, free-spirited young woman, reared in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state capital. She marries Will Kennicott, a doctor, who is a small-town boy at heart. When they marry, Will convinces her to live in his home-town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota (a town modeled on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the author's birthplace). Carol is appalled at the backwardness of Gopher Prairie. But her disdain for the town's physical ugliness and smug conservatism compels her to reform it. She speaks with its members about progressive changes, joins women's clubs, distributes literature, and holds parties to liven up Gopher Prairie's inhabitants. Despite her friendly but ineffective efforts, she is constantly derided by the leading cliques. She finds comfort and companionship outside her social class. These companions are taken from her one by one. In her unhappiness, Carol leaves her husband and moves for a time to Washington, D.C., but she eventually returns. Nevertheless, Carol does not feel defeated: I do not admit that Main Street is as beautiful as it should be! I do not admit that Gopher Prairie is greater or more generous than Europe! I do not admit that dish-washing is enough to satisfy all women! I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith.


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How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Carol Milford is How is this book unique? 15 Illustrations are included Short Biography is also included Original & Unabridged Edition Tablet and e-reader formatted Best fiction books of all time One of the best books to read Classic historical fiction books Bestselling Fiction Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Carol Milford is a liberal, free-spirited young woman, reared in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state capital. She marries Will Kennicott, a doctor, who is a small-town boy at heart. When they marry, Will convinces her to live in his home-town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota (a town modeled on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the author's birthplace). Carol is appalled at the backwardness of Gopher Prairie. But her disdain for the town's physical ugliness and smug conservatism compels her to reform it. She speaks with its members about progressive changes, joins women's clubs, distributes literature, and holds parties to liven up Gopher Prairie's inhabitants. Despite her friendly but ineffective efforts, she is constantly derided by the leading cliques. She finds comfort and companionship outside her social class. These companions are taken from her one by one. In her unhappiness, Carol leaves her husband and moves for a time to Washington, D.C., but she eventually returns. Nevertheless, Carol does not feel defeated: I do not admit that Main Street is as beautiful as it should be! I do not admit that Gopher Prairie is greater or more generous than Europe! I do not admit that dish-washing is enough to satisfy all women! I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith.

30 review for Main Street: Illustrated Platinum Edition (Free Audiobook Included)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    On page 25 I thought – this guy is brilliant. On page 50 I thought – this guy is exhaustively brilliant. On page 100 I thought – I’m exhausted. On page 150 I thought – I’ll never get out of this novel alive. On page 200 I thought – so who knew there could be so much DETAIL about every last possible aspect of one teensy Minnesotan town lodged inside the Tardis-like head of Sinclair Lewis? On page 213 my eye fell upon this : It’s the worst defeat of all. I’m beaten. By Main Street. I must go on. But I c On page 25 I thought – this guy is brilliant. On page 50 I thought – this guy is exhaustively brilliant. On page 100 I thought – I’m exhausted. On page 150 I thought – I’ll never get out of this novel alive. On page 200 I thought – so who knew there could be so much DETAIL about every last possible aspect of one teensy Minnesotan town lodged inside the Tardis-like head of Sinclair Lewis? On page 213 my eye fell upon this : It’s the worst defeat of all. I’m beaten. By Main Street. I must go on. But I can’t! Surprisingly Godotesque, and I imagine many readers of this large opus nodding their heads and smiling grimly. On page 350 I thought – you know, I think the plot is picking up a little bit. If I’m reading this right, two things have actually happened in the last 70 pages. THE DIRENESS OF SMALL TOWNS Well, that’s what this novel is ALL about. “Tell you, Carrie : there’s just three classes of people : folks that haven’t got any ideas at all; the cranks that kick about everything; and Regular Guys, the fellows with sticktuitiveness that boost and get the world’s work done.” It (what's so bad about a small town) is a sluggishness of speech and manners, a rigid ruling of the spirit by the desire to appear respectable. It is contentment…the contentment of the quiet dead, who are scornful of the living of the restless walking. It is the prohibition of happiness. It is negation canonised as the one positive virtue. It is slavery self-taught and self-defended. It is dullness made God. There’s a point on page 249 where Sinclair is ONCE again recounting how much his heroine hates Gopher Prairie, and kind of breaks down into a general jeremiad without even trying to put his thoughts into her mind. He just starts foaming and ranting. The universal similarity – that is the physical expression of the philosophy of dull safety. Nine-tenths of American small towns are so alike that it is the completest boredom to wander from one to the other. Always there is the same lumber yard, the same railroad station, the same Ford garage, the same creamery, the same…. (etc etc for a long paragraph). THE VICIOUS GOSSIP OF SMALL TOWNS “Have you heard the scandal about this Miss Mullins and Cy Bogart?” “I’m sure it is a lie.” “Oh, it probably is.” Maud’s manner indicated that the falsity of the story was an insignificant flaw in its general delightfulness. DIALECT : NOT A GOOD IDEA “Vell, so you come to town,” “Ya. Ay get a yob." ”Vell…you got a fella now?” “Ya, Yim Yacobsen.” “Vell. I’m glat to see you. How much you vant a veek?” “Sex dollar.” “There ain’t nobody pay dat. Vait! Dr Kennicott. I t’ink he marry a girl from de Cities. Maybe she pay dat. Vell, You go take a valk.” Authors, don’t do this. You are giving the impression that anyone who speaks with an accent is tuppence short of a shilling. AMY ADAMS FOR CAROL, I’D SAY This is a novel about a perky and by all accounts fairly drop dead young woman named Carol who marries a guy who is a country doctor and is so eyejabbingly tedious that I was surprised she was still alive at the end of one year of marriage when there was in the small town of Gopher Prairie a full supply of sharp agricultural implements, guns with live ammo, and even a couple of four storey buildings which would surely bust your neck should you spring from their tops. She sashays into the her hubby's home town with grand but vague ideas of "improving" it. Well, you know that expression "don't let the bastards grind you down? Turns out the bastards live in Gopher Springs. Whole town is full of them. This is a novel where the idea is like James Joyce said with Ulysses, that if Dublin burned to the ground they could rebuild it by consulting his book. In this case it’s all small towns in the north of the USA and all the interiors of every building - every square inch of Minnesota is gone over with utter thoroughness. I LIKE A GOOD LIST Sinclair Lewis is very big on lists. Fur coats, fur caps, fur mittens, overshoes buckling almost to the laces, grey knitted scarves ten feet long, thick woollen socks, canvas jackets lineed with yellow wool like the plumage of ducklings, moccasins, red flannel wristlets for the blazing chapped wrists of boys… The Commercial Club banquet and the Minniemashie House, an occasion for menus printed in gold (but injudiciously proof-read) for free cigars, soft damp slabs of Lake Superior whitefish served as fillet of sole, drenched cigar-ashes gradually filling the saucers of coffe cups, and oratorical references to Pep, Punch, Go, Vigour, Enterprise, Red Blood, He-Men, Fair Women, God’s Country, James J Hill, the Blue Sky, the Green Fields, the Bountiful Harvest, Increasing Population, Fair Return on Investments, Alien Agitators who Threaten the Security of our Institutions, the Hearthstone the Foundation of the State, Senator Knute Nelson, One Hundered Per Cent Americanism, and Pointing with Pride. When you follow a character into a room in Main Streetyou are lucky to escape without a complete inventory of furnishings and fixtures The trouble is that often grinding down poor Carol becomes indistinguishable from grinding down the poor reader. Sinclair Lewis falls into the trap that John Lennon did in his primal scream phase, say, on Cold Turkey and Mother. In his case it was yelling and moaning about what psychic pain he was in. In this case it’s boring us half to death in protest about the psychological suffocation anyone with half a brain will suffer in these innumerable burgs. Cries of “All right already!” and “You’ve already said that twenty-five times Mr Lewis” may be heard escaping involuntarily from the reader’s pursing lips. TWO MORE MOANERS 1. Surely a direct descendant of Main Street is Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, also located in Minnesota. Yes, GK paints his town with a wry avuncular affection, but in his first novel GK has his stand-in denounce Lake Wobegon remarkably bitterly in terms Sinclair Lewis would have thought he’s written (except that GK is funnier). These come in a passage called 95 Theses 95. Here’s three examples: You have subjected me to endless boring talk about the weather, regularity, back problems, and whether something happened in 1938 or 1939, insisting that I sit quietly and listen to every word. "How's it going with you?" you said. "Oh, about the same," you replied. "Cold enough for you?" It was always cold, always about the same. You have taught me to value a good night's sleep over all else including adventures of love and friendship, and even when the night is charged with magic, to be sure to get to bed. If God had not meant everyone to be in bed by ten-thirty, He would never have provided the ten o'clock newscast. You have provided me with poor male role models, including the Sons of Knute, the Boosters Club and others whose petulance, inertia, and ineptitude are legendary. I was taught to respect them: men who clung to tiny grudges for decades and were devoted to vanity, horsefeathers, small potatoes--not travel but the rites of trunk-loading and map-reading and gas mileage; not faith but the Building Committee; not love but supper. 2. Bizarrely, I could not but think of Thomas Bernhardt, whose legendary hatred of his own country Austria is poured forth in novel after novel. Main Street is in the same ball park. Except there’s no love in Austria. IMMERSIVE NOVELS Are not read for the plot but for the forensic detail of lives lived. Because of that they run the risk of boring us rigid; they’re the slow heavy beasts, the dray horses of literature – The Old Wives’ Tale and A House for Mr Biswas; and now, Main Street. The whole thing is in the immense accretion of detail. They have to win you over. Main Street won me over. In the end I loved it. Whew. Ain’t going to read another Sinclair Lewis novel any time soon, but... yeah.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Sinclair Lewis explores his love and hate of small midwestern American towns as women's fiction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    The action of this more than 400-page pavement takes place before and shortly after the First World War, in a small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie and where one might think that Sinclair Lewis has put a lot of his native background. For his people and for Dr. William Kennicott when he describes it to Carol Milford, whom he met in St. Paul, Illinois, and whom he dreams of marrying, Gopher Prairie is the most beautiful city in the world. Deep America. A wide, deep city, cheerfully colored, The action of this more than 400-page pavement takes place before and shortly after the First World War, in a small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie and where one might think that Sinclair Lewis has put a lot of his native background. For his people and for Dr. William Kennicott when he describes it to Carol Milford, whom he met in St. Paul, Illinois, and whom he dreams of marrying, Gopher Prairie is the most beautiful city in the world. Deep America. A wide, deep city, cheerfully colored, carefully maintained, and populated by a small, lively, cultivated and warm world. And when Carol, now Mrs. Kennicott, actually arrives in Gopher Prairie after their honeymoon in Colorado, she strives to see the city as her husband has presented it to her - and as he surely sees it. But Carol is an anti-conformist-born, a utopian too, who imagines that good intentions, new ideas, a little youth and an immense good will will overcome the a priori, the idioms and laziness of this small town where the sidewalks that go up the "high street" are still in wood, as in the time of the pioneers. Ready to love Gopher Prairie in spite of its ugliness, ready to sympathize sincerely with its inhabitants, it will soon realize that all this is more difficult than expected, that the good intentions of some are not enough when they clash with conformism and well-thought. In a tongue-in-cheek way that allows the reader to take the necessary distance - sometimes too much, perhaps - Sinclair Lewis draws here the portrait of a rigorous and stuck American society. He was born there, lived there, then, necessarily, somewhere, he is attached to it. But is there not a proverb that says, "Who likes to chastise well?" Here are the pillars of the astonishing relationship to money and social success already held by the Americans of the time, veneration for a single Bible and a single church, fear and contempt for the old continent, where the pioneers came from, the terrible empire of the "what do we say" (not specific, that one, it is true, small US cities) and a macho and patriarchal vision of the world to which, finally, though reluctantly, Carol will submit. It should be noted that, from the beginning, Lewis posits as a principle that Carol's sex is an additional burden in the fight she intends to lead.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    This was Lewis first novel, published in 1920, and it was a huge success, both critically and commercially. It made him a rich man and launched a career that would include the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930. Lewis felt that Main Street should have won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 but was edged out by Edith Wharton's, The Age of Innocence. It so incensed Lewis that when he did win it in 1925 for Arrowsmith, he refused to accept the award. Main Street was the first major novel that featured small This was Lewis first novel, published in 1920, and it was a huge success, both critically and commercially. It made him a rich man and launched a career that would include the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930. Lewis felt that Main Street should have won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 but was edged out by Edith Wharton's, The Age of Innocence. It so incensed Lewis that when he did win it in 1925 for Arrowsmith, he refused to accept the award. Main Street was the first major novel that featured small town America, and the public loved it. While his contemporaries, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Wharton were writing about New York and Paris and the upper crust aristocracy, Lewis focused on the heartland. Willa Cather probably came as close to Lewis as anyone in capturing the essence of the period and the people in the expanding Midwest.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    "A bomb to blow up smugness" is what one woman hopefully calls her child in Sinclair Lewis's broadside attack on mainstream America, and that's surely what this book is. I didn't know a book can be quiet and bombastic at the same time, but Lewis has written it. It covers just over a decade in Carol Milford's life, as her dreams are repeatedly drowned. She comes to Main Street, America, with grand plans to mean something in a dimly socialist way. Main Street is having none of it. Lewis has a messag "A bomb to blow up smugness" is what one woman hopefully calls her child in Sinclair Lewis's broadside attack on mainstream America, and that's surely what this book is. I didn't know a book can be quiet and bombastic at the same time, but Lewis has written it. It covers just over a decade in Carol Milford's life, as her dreams are repeatedly drowned. She comes to Main Street, America, with grand plans to mean something in a dimly socialist way. Main Street is having none of it. Lewis has a message. It's about socialism, and it joins Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath as one of the few socialist novels that aren't terrible. And it's about accepting difference, class struggle, and more than anything, feminism. He's trying to create a feminist hero here. He gets a little heavy-handed about it at times, but just a little. It's not enough to make this less than a five-star book; it's just enough to keep it off my top Novels Written For Grown-Ups list. Ishiguro's Remains of the Day is tighter. The message here has something in common with Middlemarch. Here's Eliot's thing, right?"The effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." And here's Carol Milford:"I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith."She had fancied that her life might make a story. She knew that there was nothing heroic or obviously dramatic in it, no magic of rare hours, nor valiant challenge, but it seemed to her that she was of some significance because she was commonplaceness, the ordinary life of the age, made articulate and protesting.These are characters who find fulfillment in making it through a real life with a semblance of self-respect. That's grown-up stuff. I mean, not that I'd know, but that's what I hear from old people. Which, I mean, the danger of an unexceptional life is that it makes boring reading, and one criticism of Main Street has been that it's plotless. I get that, but I think it's a narrow definition of plot. I thought of Madame Bovary while reading this, because they're both intimate looks at dissatisfied women by men who don't totally get it; that book has the dramatic events people are missing here. But I think it's a worthy achievement to pull off a novel without the help of big pageturning drama, and I think Lewis has done it. To his credit, Lewis doesn't make anyone an obvious archetype. Carol is his hero, but she's flighty, changing, a pain in the ass. A lesser writer might have written her husband as an oppressor, but Kendicott is a terrific guy: his ambitions are different than hers, but he does his very best. Even the terrible ladies of Main Street have depth and shading. Main Street is often funny. It's brilliantly written: just in terms of making sentences, Sinclair Lewis is gorgeous. It's much less obvious than it could have been, but still a bit thudding here and there. It's feminist without totally getting women. It was a smash hit when it was published, somewhat surprisingly given its full-frontal attack on half the country, but then that's sortof the point of Main Street: we all live on it, but many of us consider ourselves, smugly, above it. ps Years later, I tried to convince my wife that a great middle name for our kid would be "Bomb To Blow Up Smugness." She disagreed.

  6. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    Classics Cleanup Challenge #11 Audio #159 I didn’t like all of the arguing. For some reason it really upset me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I definitely liked this book and recommend it to others. There is so much to think about; it can be discussed from many different angles. So what are its topics? First of all, life in small towns versus life in cities. This is what the book is said to be about. Love is another theme. It is not a soppy love story though! Maturing, becoming an adult, figuring out how to live in a real world, not a world of only idealistic dreams. It is about growing up, not the teen years, but the years after that I definitely liked this book and recommend it to others. There is so much to think about; it can be discussed from many different angles. So what are its topics? First of all, life in small towns versus life in cities. This is what the book is said to be about. Love is another theme. It is not a soppy love story though! Maturing, becoming an adult, figuring out how to live in a real world, not a world of only idealistic dreams. It is about growing up, not the teen years, but the years after that. Figuring out who you are and how you are going to live your life and how you are going to meld dreams with reality. It is about relationships. It is about women's rights and all individuals’ need for fulfillment. And it’s about appreciating culture and art and the value of beauty. Yeah, it’s about friendship too. I guess I could keep adding more to the list! For me, what I liked best about the book is that opposing views are fairly portrayed. You see the pluses and the minuses of both sides. It comes down to this. What do you do when husband and wife don't want to live in the same place? Is one wrong and the other right? How do you compromise so both can live a satisfying life? You have one life; you have to be satisfied with that one life. More than just being satisfied, you have to like it! This is a great book for group reads. Views will certainly diverge. Lots to discuss. Debate, I am sure, will be lively. So why only three stars? It should have been tightened. Parts drag. A third could/should have been eliminated, not particularly in the beginning nor at the end but throughout. I came to understand both the husband's and the wife's and their friends' views perfectly. Fewer examples could surely have been given. The narration of the audiobook by Brian Emerson was fine.... but you do know what that really means. It means that while I didn't love it I have no serious complaints. The narrator almost sings the words. You could say I didn't like the melody. I wish he had just plain read the words. Still I understood everything and the speed was perfect. The narration is not a reason to avoid the audiobook. I just didn't love it. I must say I was hesitant to read this. I love life out in the country, but I do know how petty small towns' folk can behave. I also love life in a big city. I value art and culture and design and beauty. Beauty has value. I was unsure if both sides could, in an unbiased and fair manner, be accurately drawn. This book was published in 1920, and the author received the Nobel Prize in 1930. He was in fact the first US recipient. Sinclair Lewis was way ahead of his time. The book doesn’t feel dated. I think this is because human needs then and now are the same even if societal standards and circumstances have changed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I was dimly aware of Sinclair Lewis but completely unfamiliar with his work when I read John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America a couple of years ago. Steinbeck, who admired Lewis, wanted to find his way from St Paul to Sauk Centre, Lewis' Minnesota hometown and the town on which the fictional location of this novel, Gopher Prairie, is based. He recounts his conversation with a waitress in a diner who gave him directions to the town: "They got a sign up. I guess quite a few f I was dimly aware of Sinclair Lewis but completely unfamiliar with his work when I read John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America a couple of years ago. Steinbeck, who admired Lewis, wanted to find his way from St Paul to Sauk Centre, Lewis' Minnesota hometown and the town on which the fictional location of this novel, Gopher Prairie, is based. He recounts his conversation with a waitress in a diner who gave him directions to the town: "They got a sign up. I guess quite a few folks come to see it. It does the town some good." The diner's cook volunteered that he didn't think "what's-his-name" was there anymore. Steinbeck recollected how negatively Sauk Centre had reacted to Lewis and to "Main Street" when it was published in 1920 and commented "Now he's good for the town. Brings in some tourists. He's a good writer now." The way Sauk Centre embraced Sinclair Lewis is similar to the way in which the Salinas Valley embraced Steinbeck, after its initial hugely negative reaction to the publication of The Grapes of Wrath. A reader's response to this novel and in particular to its main character will depend to a large extent on their experience of and feelings towards life in a small town. Did you grow up in a small town or now live in one and absolutely love it? Then you'll probably dislike Carol Kennicott, a young librarian who in 1912 marries a dull but competent doctor, goes to live in Gopher Prairie and wants to change it and the people who live there. Can you imagine nothing worse than living in a place where everyone knows and judges everyone else? Then you'll understand Carol and feel for her, even if she also frustrates and annoys you. Having spent most of my life in a large city, I'm in the latter camp. Although I didn't find Carol particularly likeable - at least not all the time - I responded sympathetically to her. Had I been in her situation, I would probably have reacted as she did. Lewis captured all that he saw as negative in small town life and called it Main Street: narrow-mindedness, provincialism, bigotry, hypocrisy, self-satisfaction and resistance to change. However, his portrayal of those who encapsulate those characteristics is not exclusively negative. Nor is his portrayal of Carol Kennicott overwhelmingly positive. The plot may be rambling, the style uneven and the satire and social commentary broad and unsubtle, but Lewis' rendering of his central characters is not without nuance. In my view, that's where much of the strength of the work resides. This is one of those works which I'm glad I've read, even if it hasn't left me particularly anxious to read more of its writer's work. A 3.5 star literary experience with a few 5 star moments.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Small-town America. Ah, the scent of pine. The musty ramshackle old hardware store. But what is this? Something amiss in one of these romanticized burgs? Something dark and sinister? "I never imagined something like this would happen in our town," says the half-toothless talking head on the six o'clock news about the murder, even though you've seen this very thing happen in small towns 10,000 times in your life on the six o'clock news. Small-town America is supposed to be different somehow; supp Small-town America. Ah, the scent of pine. The musty ramshackle old hardware store. But what is this? Something amiss in one of these romanticized burgs? Something dark and sinister? "I never imagined something like this would happen in our town," says the half-toothless talking head on the six o'clock news about the murder, even though you've seen this very thing happen in small towns 10,000 times in your life on the six o'clock news. Small-town America is supposed to be different somehow; supposed to be better. Fuck small-town America! The real murder is not the cheerleader of Podunkville High who was raped and slain. The real murder is something more sinister and pervasive--not even a loss of innocence, because the innocence remains; dazed and confused, but always there; always cluelessly upbeat, always blaming the wrong causes for its woes. The real murder on Main Street America is a suicide; the suicide of small-town America; the murder of small-town America by its own hands. Let the values voters of small-town America's Main Street keep on shooting themselves in the foot and dragging the rest of us down with them by electing right-wing corporate-puppet elites who don't give a tinker's damn about them or anybody else. Let the crackerbarrel bigots of Main Street stew in the backwash of their own hate. Let Walmart keep grinding into dust their shitty little stores. Let the untrammeled free-enterprise that you Main Streeters voted for put you out of work. Let you pull yourselves up by your bootstraps; the ones caked with McDonald's hamburger grease from the burgers you're now flipping for $5 an hour. Let the top 1 percent's mantra reign supreme: "What's good for us is good for the nation, and the world! (Oh, and thank you Main Street America, you suckers!)" Let them continue to confuse ignorance for truth, faith for knowledge, creationism for science, heterosexuality as love's exclusive domain, poverty for charity, hope for ruthlessness. Let them believe that theirs is a self-righteousness and arrogance earned, not by reflection or learning but merely by believing and never budging and by insisting that you are wrong and the God is on their side only. Let the red states cover us with their nasty redness. When Sinclair Lewis wrote Main Street nearly a century ago now, Main Street was thriving, the commercial pulse of the nation. A veritable galaxy of hubbub dots across the map. Lewis did not predict the demise of Main Street in this formidable novel, but in capturing its soul, a soul bereft of healthy curiosity, of a sense of its own promise, of a desire to see itself in the bigger picture, he tells us how it sowed the seeds of its own destruction, and by extension the decline of America. Carol Kennicott, the city girl with the dreams and ideals of youth, the desire to share and to energize, the beautiful naivete of a progressive who wants to leave the world a better place than she found it, is Main Street's protagonist, a lovely soul after my own heart; a woman who wants to put the soul into a soulless place that wants none of it. In fact, I love love love Carol Kennicott. I could read an entire novel in which Carol Kennicott does nothing but prepare a tea service, or pick furniture, or shop for canned goods. Well, actually, a lot of Main Street seems to be about just that: Carol Kennicott fixating on ever-tinier rituals within a domestic universe that shrinks to ever-smaller dollhouse-sized proportions. Full of world-beating notions out of college and fragrant with a modicum of sophistication, Carol marries a decent, reliable, uninspiring Midwestern doctor from the sticks of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. Sold a bill of goods about the goodness of the town, the two go off to live there and Carol's dread of being domiciled within it is painfully rewarded with corroborating verification. The place is backward, banal, quietly venal, stiflingly tasteless, mercilessly moral and hypocritical, and deeply suspicious of city girls and city ideas. Gopher Prairie exists in the real 1920s; the 1920s of Zane Grey novels, not the 1920s of James Joyce or The New Yorker. The novel is about Carol's struggle to fit into this place, to negotiate between her desires to be individual and to conform, to be true to herself or to be popular, to reflect credit on her husband while aiming mightily to drag the town kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Instead, it drags her down into the dusty dregs of conformity. Beaten down by homogeneity, as a raison d'etre eludes her, as higher youthful ideals decompose via bacterial reality, Carol becomes a tragic figure; a symbol of spayed pre-liberated womanhood, a Stepford Wife of the sticks. In a reality devoid of greater meaning or purpose, her world-beating ideas are reduced to finding doilies with patterns that best match those on the sofa armrest. Lewis' book is a masterwork, too little read by today's readers. Main Street takes place in a world that may seem as appealing to engage as an arcane, tropical article in a yellowing magazine. But its world is essentially unchanged from today. The masses were asses then and they are still asses now; just as pliable, just as gullible, just as lazy, just as venal and just as lulled into low expectations. It's hardly a piquant or ingenious observation that Sinclair Lewis is unsubtly contemptuous of this rural menagerie, but he shoots fish in a barrel with an impressively embroidered firearm. He bores deeply into this town, this world, and this woman's place in it. The thing took me forever to read--many months--but the effort was worthwhile. It's a classic. Now, go out and canvass for Sarah Palin. Whoopeee!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jay Schutt

    I read this many, many years ago and remember that I didn't like it at all. Boring.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeannine Mason

    I can't properly rate this book, because I did not enjoy it (or finish it yet), but I appreciate the satire and how its "commentary" on small minded people still holds true today. To me, Lewis didn't try to build deep, interesting characters, he built representations about everything that reeks in society. This is a book that says, "You think you can change the way people think? Well, follow me to Main Street, and we will see about that." He treated the protagonists and antagonists with the same I can't properly rate this book, because I did not enjoy it (or finish it yet), but I appreciate the satire and how its "commentary" on small minded people still holds true today. To me, Lewis didn't try to build deep, interesting characters, he built representations about everything that reeks in society. This is a book that says, "You think you can change the way people think? Well, follow me to Main Street, and we will see about that." He treated the protagonists and antagonists with the same sarcastic take, even though we know his world view was similar to Carol's. I see why this book has a place in literature as a classic, but my reading time is so precious, I want to enjoy the book. This bogged me down too much. A definite read for "American Literature 101" in your first year of college, but not for a working mom who wants to curl up with a good book after the kids are in bed. I guess I got sucked in to what Lewis warned us about. I am 40, I get it. I went to my rallys at UMASS. I wore my heart on my sleeve and screamed at the injustice of it all. Now I am too damn tired to give a sh*%. Life does that to you.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I had just moved to a small town in Minnesota - with the same aspirations as this classic charater of many years before me, yet my thoughts and run ins were very much the same 50 years later. It was a reminder that one fits or one doesn't fit but to spend your life trying to change the engrained to your likely only means you will spend your life in turmoil, in hopes others after you, long after you will find the place more to your liking. Shortly afterwards - I moved.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    Set in the second decade of the 20th century, this is a reflection on small town life and an exploration of the restrictions women face. A young, college educated woman who has lived and worked in St. Paul, marries a small town doctor and moves to a provincial town of 3,000 people. Her first impression is that the town is ugly, the people dull and the atmosphere clostrophobic. But with her experience of city life, a college education and a libral upbringing, she sets out to reform and modernize Set in the second decade of the 20th century, this is a reflection on small town life and an exploration of the restrictions women face. A young, college educated woman who has lived and worked in St. Paul, marries a small town doctor and moves to a provincial town of 3,000 people. Her first impression is that the town is ugly, the people dull and the atmosphere clostrophobic. But with her experience of city life, a college education and a libral upbringing, she sets out to reform and modernize this community. The town regards her efforts as patronizing, her attitude as superior and her vision as threatening their way of life. Lewis captures these people adeptly, from the gossipy card circle to the sanctimonious elderly neighbor, from the spinster school teacher to the critical eye of the handiman who lives on the edge of the town. I am especially surprised at how sensitively Lewis captures the ambitions and frustrations, the desire to fit in and the desire to transform, the marital tension and the power of social standing felt by the female protagonist. Even though this is primarily Carol’s story, the town seen from her perspective, Lewis manages to show the reader the humanity of these small-minded, parochial towns folk also. I was surprised by its relevance and its outstanding character development. Initially, I thought it was going to get bogged down in flowery descriptions, but the lovely picture of turn-of-the-century Midwestern landscapes soon gave way to humorous, tender, ambitious, misunderstood, complex lives.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Kept feeling like a disappoving old lady reading this book: "This young man writes very well, but I don't like his tone." Smug. Unutterably smug, and he doesn't seem to like or care about any of his characters, which makes the whole exercise rather cold. I suppose, ninety years later, the "small towns are narrow-minded and hypocritical" theme has been done to death, and Lewis deserves credit for pioneering the genre, but on the whole I didn't like it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This book went on too long for me -- I ended up losing interest in and patience with Carol. I felt like I should sympathize with her but didn't in fact do so. Lloyd James was very good with the narration which did help me persevere through.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    actually kinda won me over at the end, once the main character actually, y'know, DID SOMETHING. but the first 200 or so pages of "small-town satire," which is just a buncha dad-bern idjits talkin' like this is some of the most annoying shit i've ever read in my life. beyond comprehension that this guy won a nobel prize. though i guess english wasn't the jury's first language.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Briynne

    This book was intensely personal to me – so much so that I found myself closing the book so I could just stare at the wall and think at points. The plot concerns the struggles of a woman, Carol, against the strange omniscience and rigidity of a small Midwestern town. She is a city-girl who marries a country doctor and optimistically sets out for a new life on the prairie, circa World War I. Upon settling in, she realizes that her ideas for “improving” the town through the introduction of high cu This book was intensely personal to me – so much so that I found myself closing the book so I could just stare at the wall and think at points. The plot concerns the struggles of a woman, Carol, against the strange omniscience and rigidity of a small Midwestern town. She is a city-girl who marries a country doctor and optimistically sets out for a new life on the prairie, circa World War I. Upon settling in, she realizes that her ideas for “improving” the town through the introduction of high culture, town planning, and the generally sophisticated example of her own conduct are completely without any hope of succeeding. She is shocked to find that the citizens of Gopher Prairie are not only resistant to her improving influence, they are actually quite happy to wallow in their rusticity. And so begins her decline. Her ideas and ambitions seem silly and condescending in a 21st century view, but there is so much of Carol that reminds me of myself as a teenager it almost makes me uncomfortable. I spent a large part of my adolescence planning my escape from my own Gopher Prairie; Europe and the East Coast were my Promised Lands like they were Carol’s, and I felt that somehow I had been born in the Midwest by some cruel accident of fate. But Carol and I diverge at one important point; I have the isolated fields and towns of the Midwest in my blood, and Carol did not. And because of this, I spent equal parts of the book sympathizing with her and feeling indignant that she could never find the good in anything around her. I naturally find my own feelings on the desperation of living in such a place excusable, but it doesn’t seem fair to here them from an outsider. I condemned Carol all the way through the second half of the novel, including her moping, rather pathetic attempt at a love affair, and dull try at a life of emancipation in DC. Surely at some point she would grow up and realize that a person can have ideals, practice them, and still not make herself and everyone around her miserable. And she does come around at the end, but not in a very satisfying way; I felt that her return at the end of the book was more an act of settling than of finding peace with the place. It was only after I had finished and had time to properly digest the story that I began to feel rather sorry for being so harsh. I’ve come to appreciate my hometown through the benefit of time and distance, and look forward to moving back someday. But poor Carol had none of my coping mechanisms; no Goodreads, BBC World News, Football365, Masterpiece Classics on PBS, interlibrary loan, free nights & weekends cell phone plans, a profession, email, Barnes&Noble.com, quick travel, or - most importantly - an income and checking account. In Carol’s time and place I might have gone crazy as well. The Midwest now has the appeal of geographic isolation without the horror of isolation from thought and influence from the outside world. I’m giving this book five stars because it made me think.

  18. 5 out of 5

    seak

    Read this in high school, well it was a summer reading book and I remember hating it. I actually enjoyed a lot of my summer reading list including Watership Down, The Once and Future King, The Jungle, and others, but this one killed it for me. Looking back, however, I'm pretty sure I missed something when I first read it, some joke that everyone got but me. I think I may have to revisit this one day and see how my more literate and well-read (and snobbish) self rates it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cass

    The main character is me. Wow, she is blowing me away by her similarities, and I am both impressed with the ability to capture me in text, and embarrassed that the one literary character that represents me the most is so flawed. I want to be Anne Elliot (or Elizabeth or Emma for that matter), or Menolly, or Hermione or Katniss (Erm, maybe not), heroines that are strong and without major flaws. Instead I am Carol Kennicott the most maddening main character I have ever met... and she is me to a tee The main character is me. Wow, she is blowing me away by her similarities, and I am both impressed with the ability to capture me in text, and embarrassed that the one literary character that represents me the most is so flawed. I want to be Anne Elliot (or Elizabeth or Emma for that matter), or Menolly, or Hermione or Katniss (Erm, maybe not), heroines that are strong and without major flaws. Instead I am Carol Kennicott the most maddening main character I have ever met... and she is me to a tee! Carol is all over the place. In college she yearns to be a leader of change, but she isn't quite sure what. She flips back and worth between a desire to move to a small town and transform it, or become a life changing and inspirational librarian. Her flaw is that she does not persist. She does not stick to a single idea or conviction, instead she flutters about from one great thing to another, giving up at the first obstacle. (Me Me Me Me!) At first I supported her. She didn't quite know what she wanted but bravo for trying something - anything. She wanted to shake up the town, make it something - anything - but the townsfolk were happy. She was frustrated that they couldn't see how unhappy they should be. She want to rebuild the city hall, the tea rooms, the school building, plants gardens, have a literary society, have a husband who enjoyed reading poetry at night, go sledding in winter, and generally transform the town in a vision that suited her. She never did all of this at once, she flitted from one thing to another, giving up as soon as she saw an obstacle, giving up as soon as she was bored and some other scheme seemed more hopeful. By mid-way through the book I am sick of her. I have given up. When will she stick with something - anything. When will she realise how rude she is being trying to insist that the townsfolk change to suit her. So they don't like going sledding in winter - so what? The book is full of interesting ideas and juxtapositions, we see things through the eyes of Carol and initially we agree with her, and then slowly and subtly we are led to consider the rest of the town and in doing so it becomes obvious that Carol is rather egotistical in her desire for change that suits herself. Occasional she tries to rally support for her ideas, but is always frustrated when the people she turns to have ideas of their own. She wants the people to support her 100%, she does not want to compromise or give up on a jot or tittle of her idea. Now this might be commendable if she only ever stuck with one idea. However when she is trying to build a new city hall she is frustrated that another person wants to do it differently, so much that she gives up the scheme entirely and moves onto something else... occasionally even doubling back and taking up the same scheme that was important to the other person (the one that made her give up). She is exhausting. I am exhausted by her. Are people this exhausted by me? I am also enjoying the growth in her relationship towards her husband. It is a hard road. She settled for a nice man and fairly quickly became disappointed that he wasn't everything she dreamed of. He wasn't literary, and didn't seek to change the town, he wasn't revolutionary, and talked of marriage practicalities in a way she found confronting. She saw all his faults and occasionally thought about leaving him. As she goes on she starts to see that many of his faults are not faults, he is a good man and has many good qualities that she can grow to love, if she would only allow herself. At the mid-way point the author has got his point across and even he fast-forwards a few years, we get the idea it is all more of the same so he quickly skips us through it. The book is full of some wonderful moments where the reader is able to pause and reflect on what has been written and how it is corresponds to modern society. It is very true that nothing new is under the sun, and this book is full of concerns that we are still encountering today (and we still think we are the first generation to encounter them). I particularly love one moment when she is talking to her husband about how their son should be raised. He is advocating for a more traditional discipline approach while she wants to treat the boy like a person. Nearly one hundred years later I faced the same question from my family about how I was raising my children, and here I thought it was only our generation who had considered raising a child as a person.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Sinclair Lewis was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. The citation reads for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters. His most well-known novels are Main Street (1920) and Babbit (1922). Main Street ruffled more than a few feathers in small town America when it was first published in 1920, and I expect it has the same effect on some readers today, nearly a century later. Sinclair Lew Sinclair Lewis was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. The citation reads for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters. His most well-known novels are Main Street (1920) and Babbit (1922). Main Street ruffled more than a few feathers in small town America when it was first published in 1920, and I expect it has the same effect on some readers today, nearly a century later. Sinclair Lewis wrote this savage satire as an indictment of small town life in the early 20th century – a time when prairie life was patriotically idealised as wholesome and honorable. But Lewis saw small towns as claustrophobic, narrow-minded, anti-intellectual, mean-spirited and conformist. He labelled the power of small town life to inculcate its citizenry with enervating shallow values as ‘The Village Virus’, and the focus of the story is whether the outsider Carol will succumb to Main Street, or not. The choice of Carol as the central character means that Main Street also explores the same territory of female aspirations and limited career choices as Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900), and this adds interest to Lewis’s primary critique. To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/201... I read and blogged my review of Main Street in July 2011. Lisa Hill, Melbourne, Australia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    Caustic satire of small-town life. Although some of the concepts in the book are invariably dated, the concept and the characters are still only too familiar, and the follies of small-town living are laid bare.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I set a goal to read at least one classic book each month. This was my choice for July, as it overlapped with research interests in the period. Carol is a liberal, proudly-literate young woman of Minneapolis who marries a doctor and ends up in the small town of Gopher Prairie. She thinks she's going to reform and enlighten the entire town--indeed, even raze Main Street to the ground and rebuild it Georgian-style. Young and naive as she is, she is genuinely shocked and hurt by her reception by the I set a goal to read at least one classic book each month. This was my choice for July, as it overlapped with research interests in the period. Carol is a liberal, proudly-literate young woman of Minneapolis who marries a doctor and ends up in the small town of Gopher Prairie. She thinks she's going to reform and enlighten the entire town--indeed, even raze Main Street to the ground and rebuild it Georgian-style. Young and naive as she is, she is genuinely shocked and hurt by her reception by the town's well-established cliques who have zero desire to change. Again and again, she tries to make friends and to fight through the enraging mindless boredom of what it means to be a doctor's wife in a small town, where she's supposed to be satisfied with her life of comfort and strain neither her body or mind. Again and again, she fails, becoming increasingly dissatisfied in her marriage and everything that is embodied by Main Street. My gosh, but Lewis can write. His Babbit impressed me, but Main Street delves deep into the very psychology of a small town. He shows the full ranges of personalities, the social stratification, and the petty, horrible gossip that is the primary hobby for many. Even more, he goes deep into Carol's psychology. He totally gets how it feels to be a woman stuck at home, bored mindless, and afraid of staying in that dread loneliness forevermore; many modern male writers can't do justice to that despair, but Lewis did, and in the 1920s. I also appreciate how his nuanced portrayal doesn't make Carol into a martyr (though she does feel like that at times). Quite often, Carols brings trouble upon herself, but by keeping the point of view with her the majority of the time, we can still sympathize (even if we kinda wanna slap her). The book also acts like a camera to depict life in a small town on the Minnesota prairie through the 1920s. That means camaraderie, at times, but it also means outright sexism and racism. While minstrel shows and playing at being Chinese get brief mentions, the most blatant racism throughout is the social and racial line between the Anglo-Saxon town elite and the Nordic and Germanic people who make up the common laborers and farmers. Carol is the only one willing to cross those lines--becoming friends with 'the help'--because of her deep loneliness, and it sadly perpetuates the cycle for her. Her efforts to stand up for the newly-arrived artistic sissy--so derided by the manly-men of town, they call him by a woman's name--don't end well, either. This is truly a masterful read, a rare classic that holds up due to the skill of its writing. I don't often like literary fiction, and many of the subjects here would immediately make me stop reading other books. But Lewis handled everything with such a deft hand, I felt as anxious at times as I might if I read a modern thriller. Mind you, other readers might not feel that way, but I strongly related to Carol in her isolation, and that made this a surprisingly quick read for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anima

    "A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant "A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth. ....Yet so radioactive were her nerves, so adventurous her trust in rather vaguely conceived sweetness and light, that she was more energetic than any other hulking young woman who, with calves bulging in heavy-ribbed woolen stockings beneath decorous blue serge bloomers, thuddingly galloped across the floor of the “gym” in practice for the Blodgett Ladies’ Basket-ball Team. Even when she was tired her dark eyes were observant. She did not yet know the immense ability of the world to be casually cruel and proudly dull, but if she should ever learn those dismaying powers, her eyes would never become sullen or heavy or rheumily amorous. At various times during Senior year Carol finally decided upon studying law, writing motion-pictures scenarios, professional nursing, and marrying an unidentified hero.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in November 2000. Main Street has been described as "one of the most merciless novels ever written". It is an apt description of this depiction of small town midwestern America in the early years of this century, but there is an important element in Lewis' writing which it does not convey.Lewis understands his subject through and through, and that makes what he has to say not just merciless but believable. He also doesn't just restrict his attack to provincial Originally published on my blog here in November 2000. Main Street has been described as "one of the most merciless novels ever written". It is an apt description of this depiction of small town midwestern America in the early years of this century, but there is an important element in Lewis' writing which it does not convey.Lewis understands his subject through and through, and that makes what he has to say not just merciless but believable. He also doesn't just restrict his attack to provincial petty society, but he is equally clear about the shortcomings of would-be reformers, like Carol Kennicott. She is in the position in the novel that would usually be occupied by the heroine, but there is little that is heroic about her. Carol is not only from the city, but she is educated and interested in social issues, with a viewpoint distinctly toward the political left of the inhabitants of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. When she marries Dr Will Kennicot from that city - officially, because it had taken the trouble to incorporate itself as one - she does not realise quite how small it is from his enthusiastic endorsements. When she arrives there, she is determined to drag it into the twentieth century, to spread some cultural light and to change its engrained attitudes. As each of her schemes is shown to be hopelessly impractical, or just to put people's backs up, she abandons it for a new enthusiasm. She is ludicrous, and what she is trying to change is also ludicrous. (There is for example, a wonderful section in which Carol attends a meeting of the ladies of the town, in which she expects them to start a course on English literature, only to discover that by the end of the evening they expect to know all that is worth knowing and proper to know about the subject, so that they can move on to a new topic the next week.) Part of her problem is that she wants simultaneously to fit in and be accepted and to radically change things, but the way in which one new enthusiasm after another takes her is the main reason taht she doesn't get anywhere. The characterisation is good, and it is mostly intended to paint a fairly bleak picture of Gopher Prairie. There is nothing gentle about Main Street; it is a portrait based on real understanding and real hatred.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Main Street is more of a social commentary than a novel. While not great art, it is thought provoking and offers a revealing historical perspective. It made me realize sadly just how persistent is the stagnation of the human spirit that afflicts so much of America. Lewis straightforwardly tells his satiric story of life in Gopher Prairie Minnesota in which a city girl who marries a country doctor is constantly thwarted in her efforts to rise above the townspeople’s dreary existence. These passage Main Street is more of a social commentary than a novel. While not great art, it is thought provoking and offers a revealing historical perspective. It made me realize sadly just how persistent is the stagnation of the human spirit that afflicts so much of America. Lewis straightforwardly tells his satiric story of life in Gopher Prairie Minnesota in which a city girl who marries a country doctor is constantly thwarted in her efforts to rise above the townspeople’s dreary existence. These passages sum it up pretty well. “It is an unimaginatively standardized background, a sluggishness of speech and manners, a rigid ruling of the spirit by the desire to appear respectable. It is contentment…contentment of the quiet dead, who are scornful of the living for their relentless walking. It is negation canonized as the one positive virtue. It is the prohibition of happiness. It is slavery self-taught and self-defended. It is dullness made God. A savorless people, gulping tasteless food, and sitting afterword coatless and thoughtless…and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world.” He goes on, “…the citizens are proud of that achievement of ignorance which is easy to come by. To be ‘intellectual’ or ‘artistic’ or, in their own words, to be ‘highbrow’ is to be priggish and of dubious virtue…The cloud of supreme ignorance submerges them in unhappiness and futility.” What is striking and disturbing is how easily we recognize the pettiness in Main Street 100 years later. The thinking of Gopher Prairie’s inhabitants of a century ago still exists in countless towns today where 19th century concepts of God and country predominate and disdain for “highbrow” ideas still resonates. The Tea Party provides ample evidence that the rural-urban divide is stronger than ever. At the end Carrie, the scrappy heroine who finally succumbs to the banal life, talks of her new daughter living until the year 2000 in a new enlightened world when people may be flying to Mars. She got it half right. Technology would advance dramatically, but people not nearly so much. Lewis would have undoubtedly been very disappointed if he could see how little we have changed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    I was really interested in the themes of this book. The novel is strikingly relevant even 90-something years after its publication. The protagonist, Carrie, struggles against falling into the rut of quiet, midwestern life while progressivism rages on in the bustling cities she once called home. I could sympathise with a lot of her feelings- the stagnancy and the dullness of the country compared to urban life. They didn't really have suburbs as we know them back in the 1910s, but I could relate t I was really interested in the themes of this book. The novel is strikingly relevant even 90-something years after its publication. The protagonist, Carrie, struggles against falling into the rut of quiet, midwestern life while progressivism rages on in the bustling cities she once called home. I could sympathise with a lot of her feelings- the stagnancy and the dullness of the country compared to urban life. They didn't really have suburbs as we know them back in the 1910s, but I could relate to her feelings as my own feelings of living in a city versus living in the suburbs. Plus, political debates about what is "radical" versus "progressive" and "morally obligated" versus "socially instituted" will always be relevant to the world, and some of the struggles and arguments the people in the novel had- over socialism, women's rights, and what constitutes an education- are hauntingly familiar in the current political climate. Also, it's always interesting to see how the attitudes of older and younger generations with respect to each other never really change. Overall, I could see how some people wouldn't enjoy this novel- it can be a little tedious at parts, and just hair-pullingly frustrating at others- but if you've ever wondered what your role in society is and how you as an individual can work to change the world bit-by-bit, look into this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Will

    I used to travel occasionally across the state and visited some small towns where I thought, “This looks pretty nice… maybe not much going on…but, if you had not been previously spoiled by the trappings of “city” life (i.e. did not know better) it might be an enjoyable place to live.” Well…this book annihilated that little theory. I suppose I had it partially right in that you can’t move down to the farm after you’ve seen gay Paris (that’s a joke if you know where I live). But, more disconcertin I used to travel occasionally across the state and visited some small towns where I thought, “This looks pretty nice… maybe not much going on…but, if you had not been previously spoiled by the trappings of “city” life (i.e. did not know better) it might be an enjoyable place to live.” Well…this book annihilated that little theory. I suppose I had it partially right in that you can’t move down to the farm after you’ve seen gay Paris (that’s a joke if you know where I live). But, more disconcerting is the realization that the freedom that Carol Kenniccott seeks exists only in theory, Main Street exists all over the place, and it’s not that hot for the natives either. What really blew me away was how relevant this book remains. 100 years later and (in addition to the main themes of the book--the dullness and hypocrisy of American provincial life) we are still dealing with the treatment of immigrants and the poor, bigotry, the use of patriotism and morality (or alleged lack thereof) as a bludgeon, and war.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    A satire isn't necessarily funny or lighthearted. Critical--yes. Pessimistic--yes. Main Street is just that book. The characters are ridiculed by the author and don't seem to improve their vices, or change their points of view from beginning to end. But sometimes who doesn't enjoy some sarcasm? I did.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan Notzon

    Carol Kennicott is a fish out of water in small-town America. Her arc is discovering that, as the big-city suffragette tells her, she should challenge one conformist law at a time. Despite finding Sinclair Lewis to be a condescending snob, I believe him to be one extraordinary writer. The effete snobbery is the belief that small-town America is filled with petty, unimaginative, conformist boobs, who are in dire need of the sophistication of the metropolis and the old world. They are backbiting a Carol Kennicott is a fish out of water in small-town America. Her arc is discovering that, as the big-city suffragette tells her, she should challenge one conformist law at a time. Despite finding Sinclair Lewis to be a condescending snob, I believe him to be one extraordinary writer. The effete snobbery is the belief that small-town America is filled with petty, unimaginative, conformist boobs, who are in dire need of the sophistication of the metropolis and the old world. They are backbiting and stolid as cows, never questioning the rules imposed by church and their small-minded society. That said, Lewis creates a one hell of a story and, if the product of liberal prejudice, it is extraordinarily well told, with some astonishing imagery and quite compelling character descriptions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    As someone with a deep familiarity with small town rural life in the upper plains, this book should certainly have been appealing to me. The points that Lewis returns to over and over again--that these towns are full of narrow-minded, self-important fools--are undeniably true. Maybe it's because I grew up in such a town though, instead of being a transplant like the book's protagonist Carol, that I also feel a certain grudging respect and even love for these places. Lewis' knives are also out fo As someone with a deep familiarity with small town rural life in the upper plains, this book should certainly have been appealing to me. The points that Lewis returns to over and over again--that these towns are full of narrow-minded, self-important fools--are undeniably true. Maybe it's because I grew up in such a town though, instead of being a transplant like the book's protagonist Carol, that I also feel a certain grudging respect and even love for these places. Lewis' knives are also out for Carol, not only the fictional town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. In Lewis' hands, we see Carol as a waffling and uncommitted would-be savior of Gopher Prairie. For someone supposedly well-educated and artistic, she has difficulty finding the beauty in the world around her. I don't especially have a problem with any of this; many great books have unlikable main characters and settings. I do, however, have a problem with Main Street's pace. The story unfolds at an interminable pace, and the episodes have a repititious flavor that quickly becomes trying. The exception to this rule is the episode involving the family of Miles. This was the one place this book did successfully touch me, and the humanity of a character was actually revealed. I can understand that this novel was important at the time of its publication, but I think its cultural resonance has faded to a substantial degree. Modern telecommunications have largely rendered Carol's predicament non-existent and the lingering puritanism of our culture continues to dissipate. Lewis' prose is workmanlike and adequate, and this book can certainly help us understand some of the incredible isolation small town denizens must have felt in the first half of the 20th century. But it no longer speaks directly to us.

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