Elmer Gantry is satire, not exposé

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 Gantry by Sinclair Lewis Harcourt, Brace, 1927; 432 pp. #1 on the 1927 […]

Columnist finds Sinclair Lewis’s novel “eerily familiar fiction”

A Boston Globe columnist writes about reading Sinclair Lewis’s 1936 bestseller It Can’t Happen Here. By Joan Wickersham   August 25, 2016 Here’s what the candidate promises: He’s going to “Make America a proud, rich land again.” Everything’s going to work if he’s elected. Goods will be manufactured here, not overseas. He has certain (unspecified) […]

My picks of 1936’s bestselling novels

The best reading from 1936 for today’s readers are both about people caught in tempestuous political and cultural shifts: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Southerners who put on gray uniforms for the old South were fighting to retain a way of life that was familiar and […]

It Can’t Happen Here: Timely and Terrifying

In 1935, Europe was preparing for war against the Jews and Socialists and anybody else who didn’t care to knuckle under to the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. Watching Europe fall into the clutches of dictators, Sinclair Lewis pondered how a dictator could come to power in America. It Can’t Happen Here: A Novel by […]

Arrowsmith stumbles and bogs down

Sinclair Lewis says Arrowsmith is the biography of a young man who was “in no degree a hero, who regarded himself as a seeker after truth yet who stumbled and slid back all his life and bogged himself in every obvious morass.” The novel also stumbles and bogs down. Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis ©1925. 1952 […]

Cass Timberlane has broken back, funny bits

Cass Timberlane: A Novel of Husbands and Wives is really two books represented respectively by the title and subtitle. In the main story, Cass Timberland, 41, an intellectually astute and emotionally dense Minnesota judge falls for a young girl with “fine ankles and a clear voice” who testifies in a negligence case. Cass Timberlane: A […]