Here’s you chance to say which of the 1927 bestselling novels you think are best for today’s readers.
I’ll share my list the next time we meet.
Handsome, aimless Elmer Gantry is sent by his mother to small Baptist college where he plays football, drinks, and chases women.
By a fluke, he becomes the champion of the campus preacher boys and is sucked into becoming a Baptist preacher.
Elmer escapes a shot-gun wedding at his first church, blows his chance at another church by getting drunk, and ends up as a traveling salesman for a farm equipment company.
On the road, Elmer falls in with a female evangelist, then with a “New Thought” lecturer until he attracts the notice of a Methodist bishop.
Elmer converts to Methodism, and uses his considerable talent for promotion and publicity to good advantage.
There’s money to be made in religion, plenty of applause, and lots of willing women.
Elmer comes close to catastrophe more than once, but he always seems to land on his feet.
The term “Elmer Gantry” has become synonymous with clerical hypocrisy. However, Sinclair Lewis is less concerned with Elmer’s womanizing than with the mercenary religious establishment that shelters him.
The novel is more satire than exposé. Elmer Gantry is too funny for anyone to take Lewis seriously.
I laughed out loud at lines like, “He had learned the poverty is blessed, but that bankers make the best deacons.”
©2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni
My journey leapfrogging through the bestselling novels of 1900 to 1969, reviewing sets of novels on the decade anniversary of their publication has reached 1927.
Here is the list of the bestseller list of 90 years ago which I’ll be reviewing in April. Dates my reviews are scheduled to appear here are in square brackets.
#1 Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis [April 4 2017]
#2 The Plutocrat by Booth Tarkington [April 8, 2017]
#3 Doomsday by Warwick Deeping [April 11, 2017]
#4 Sorrell and Son by Warwick Deeping [reviewed June 14, 2016]
#5 Jalna by Mazo de la Roche [reviewed Oct. 15, 2008]
#6 Lost Ecstasy by Mary Roberts Rinehart [April 15, 2017]
#7 Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton [April 18, 2017]
#8 Tomorrow Morning by Anne Parrish [April 22, 2017]
#9 The Old Countess by Anne Douglas Sedgwick [April 25.2017]
#10 A Good Woman by Louis Bromfield [April 29 2017 ]
These novels are too recent to be out of copyright in the U.S. If you want to buy a second hand copy or reprint, I suggest you try Alibris.com, a collaborative database of independent booksellers.
The reader poll will be posted May 2 and my best of the 1927 bestsellers post on May 6.