Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Down in the Street


There's a whirl of shorthand out there jiving about Wall Street / Main Street, so now's as good a time to get back to the source of the latter part of the equation -- Sinclair Lewis' Main Street (1920).

I knew I'd been posting for quite a little while when I recently came across one of my own earlier posts on Sinclair Lewis floating around the internet, already touching on his main works ("Exiled on Main Street," 2/7/2007). So let's keep this a brief sequel.

Carol Milford, the main protagonist of Main Street, worked as a librarian in the Twin Cities before (this is from memory, seems about right) marrying Will Kennicutt, a simple doctor kind of guy who moves her to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, itself a rustic simple-minded but cutting place that drives her batty to improve it by bringing in more culture, and so on. She's not exactly Madame Bovary, and the overall take on all American life is more darkly satiric than deeply tragic. Main Street, a bit like Peyton Place only written and taking place decades earlier, takes rural US towns off their mythic pedestals and shows them to be just as fraught as cities, only on a smaller scale.

On Main Street today, there are still plenty of lawyers, doctors, bankers and the like calling many of the local shots (and some of their associates work on Wall Street). And oh yeah, artists and their allies still try to enliven things, too. The more things change . . .

Today's Rune: The Self.

4 comments:

jodi said...

Erik, you were a "carney?" At our local fair, those dudes always had the BEST music. Of course, I was instructed to stay away from them--my parents thought I'd run away for sure--a very valid concern! xo

Charles Gramlich said...

Always enjoyed Lewis

Beth said...

I loved everything I read by Sinclair Lewis when I was in school, but haven't read any of his work since. I keep saying I will ... maybe this post will lead me to the L shelf at my bookstore.

Johnny Yen said...

Our very own Mayor Daley was raging yesterday at the bailout. Between the war and the bailout, it'll be 1.7 o 2 trillion dollars. Here he and other big-city mayors are begging for money to improve schools and infrastructure and here it is being wasted on an unnecessary war and to bail out an industry that was stupid. For a fraction of that money, Chicago could have had a really nice public transit system and great schools.