Thursday, February 07, 2013

Main Street

Several novels by Sinclair Lewis are hilarious, tinged with tragic realism, and completely relevant nearly a hundred years later. Today's his birthday (1885-1951).

Even now we hear phrases like, "From Wall Street to Main Street." 

Now, though, rare is the place with a Main Street in the sense of a town or city's vital center or zone, unless by Main Street you mean TV and shopping malls. But now the one is ethereal, in living rooms or on computer screens, not centered anywhere in particular, while malls could be situated just about anywhere in any place -- and often are, surrounded by "parking lots," "car parks," "parking decks." (Aren't we lucky now, walking through a usually hideous parking lot, otherwise known as a parc de stationnement, Parkplatz or aparcamiento, dodging reckless scofflaw drivers or darting around squat security carts with their evilly flashing yellow lights?).

In any case, Sinclair Lewis not only conjures modernizing American life at the dawn of the automobile age, he clearly has his pulse on things to come, too -- like living in today's world, even without a physically manifest Main Street. Almost as if he'd been a time traveler.

Pictured above: one of several editions of Sinclair Lewis' Main Street: The Story of Carol Kennicott (1920), in this case a Bantam Classic. 

Today's Rune: Wholeness.


jodi said...

Erik, I have a movie by the same name on DVR. Wonder if they are one and the same?

Charles Gramlich said...

I liked this book quite a lot. For years I thought of writing a fantasy version of this kind of work. Never got it done, though.