PSA-230406-Book Report

Reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis is another line ticked off my bucket list. I scored it four stars. Lewis was an accomplished writer and told a good story in Main Street, but I thought it was a little too slow. Of course that is exactly what he was writing about. His story takes place in a small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie. That name struck me as being a funny. I had to look it up. Gopher Prairie is a fictional town patterned after the author’s home town of Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The main character in this story is Carol a native Minnesotan who gets the idea that she wants to change the world one town at a time. The problem is that she can only see that a town is not to her liking. She really doesn’t know, nor can she describe what an ideal town looks like, only that Gopher Prairie is not to her vision. She meets and marries a local man Will Kennicott a local country doctor who is several years her senior.

Although she agreed to live in Gopher Prairie with he husband Will, she never finds a single thing she likes about the town, or the people who live there. At best she tolerates the people and endures the simplicity of the town of three thousand people. As she described the town I got an image of a place I would like to live.

Carol and Will have a baby, a son. One would think that the child would change the mother’s attitude. Even though she loves the child she he does not change her idea about the town. In the mean time her husband being a country doctor is on the go and out of the house long and often. Carol is not satisfied with keeping a house and raising a baby, she wants more.

My personal opinion is that Carol needed a therapist, but therapists didn’t exist in Gopher Prairie in the early 1900’s. After suffering for several years with this dilemma she decides that the best thing for her to do is to move away to a big city where her vision of perfection would be satisfied. She reminded me of actress Cher in the movie Moonstruck when her fiancee is hopelessly complaining, and Cher hauls off and slaps him across the head, and shouts “snap out of it.”

I did enjoy reading this story, but I couldn’t give it more than four stars. It was slow at times and the author tried to get into the heads of his characters a little too much for my comfort.

Sinclair Lewis is a renowned author having won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, and Main Street was his most successful book. Regardless of Carol’s opinion about Gopher Prairie, I would have loved to grow up there. At the time the town population was 3000. That is very similar to the population of Frankfort, IL when I moved here. I thought the town was idyllic, quiet, pastoral and close to rural. Over the past thirty years it has grown, as has the entire surrounding area, and the charm is now replaced with excessive vehicle traffic, huge schools, oodles of franchises, and too many policemen. The historic district is where all newcomers want to live because it most closely resembles small town America. My ideal town is featured in an old movie titled “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. This type of town still exists in the USA, but they are far away from big cities and are dying out.

With the current population influx of immigrants from everywhere, our small towns are all bound to grow as poor people look for places that are affordable, and free from too much regulation. Eventually, our cities will resemble those in China where cities like Shanghai exceed twenty millions souls. During the COVID 19 shutdown I researched Wuhan to learn that it is not a single city, but a cluster of several cities blending into one another for a whopping population of sixty million. They sure as hell can’t relate to the story of Main Street at all.