Enjoyable and interesting. I am glad he is not my minister. He is a character!!!
Anthony Heald brings this nearly 90-year-old story to life, giving the listener full access to the brilliant and acerbic writing of Sinclair Lewis. The story is a timeless and mesmerizing send-up of hypocritical evangelists then and now. Burt Lancaster's role in the 1960 movie does justice to the character but truncates most of the novel. Well worth the listener's time, this book opened up the world of Sinclair Lewis for me. I cannot say enough good things about Anthony Heald's performance. Five-stars all the way.
I have previously enjoyed Anthony Heald reading The House of the Seven Gables, but this reading of Elmer Gantry is a work of art in itself. Both the reading and the writing are a "revelation".
Say something about yourself!
I have seen this classic movie a few times so when the book was on sale I decided to give it a try... glad I did. The book is so much more than what was in the movie. Excellent book would definitely recommend.
The fictional Elmer Gantry rises to prominence before the era of radio and TV evangelism, but his greed, selfishness, and sexual indiscretions are just like those of some real-life preachers we all know.
Elmer Gantry follows the protagonist from his beginnings as an irreverent student at a religious university who's browbeaten into being "saved" by another traveling preacher who turns out to be a cynical fraud himself. But Elmer is set out on his path, and goes to seminary to become a Baptist preacher. After getting caught with one of his flock, he's kicked out by the Baptists. He becomes assistant (and lover) to a crazy woman evangelist named Sharon Falconer, who on the one hand is as phony as he is, and on the other seems to really believe every bit of nonsense she spouts. Her character was quite interesting; today we'd probably call her bipolar, and she seems to be the one woman Elmer truly loves, as he remembers her for the rest of his life, even when he moves on to bigger and better venues after losing her.
This was a great story for its study of hypocrisy and very cynical and realistic examination of religion in America. (Sinclair did his homework, sitting in on a lot of church services to write this.) It's not exactly an indictment of Christianity and shouldn't be taken that way -- the novel doesn't take a stand on the rightness or wrongness of any particular religious beliefs, only on the all-too-realistic behavior of the clergy and parishioners. Sinclair writes a straightforward story with lots of minor characters, each of them very human and flawed and interesting. By the end of the book, you're really, really hoping that Elmer Gantry will finally get his comeuppance, but despite many close calls and setbacks over the course of his career, Gantry is like an eel who always seems to wriggle his way out of the worst of his difficulties.
Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry was wonderfully portrayed by Anthony Heald. The despicable Brother/Reverend/Doctor Gantry tarnishes everyone he touches as he moves through his wretched life. Lewis displays his masterful talent and even pokes fun at himself.
I think the book could have been a bit more concise. But it was very well written. Narration was excellent.
I would not recommend reading "Elmer Gantry", unless you desire bad feelings for the church (a church from about 100 years ago!).
Elmer Gantry is the original "snake-oil" salesman, and the Anti-Hero of this story.
The book chronicles his upbringing as a bully, his disgraces throughout seminary, and his later 'smooth' rise to the pinnacles of evangelical preaching. Written in 1926, Elmer Gantry echoes many sentiments we now associate with that time period: apple pie and ice cream socials, fear of “Communist Sympathizers”, racism, and (of course) loud and sanctimonious “Revival Preachers”.
Sinclair hammers the reader over the head with the notion that all pastors (save but one or two cardboard cut-out characters) are immoral, liars, thieves, athiests, or all of the above. He brings up important points about the hypocrisy of "Professional Good Men", but I wondered often what he was actually trying to say. (?)
The morals of the story seemed to be: All pastors are hypocrites; Religion is laughable: All religions have good points if not taken seriously; The congregation of a church is mostly made up of dumb sheep; and etc...
Verdict: skip it.
Old Fart 1960 (some day....)
Anthony Heald narrates this preacher-factory satire with such an exceptional feel for the characters and their cunning ways, I can't imagine any other narrator doing this book justice. Mr. Heald is the true star of this audiobook. The story is also a great satirical read about the life of the Southern turn-of-the-century bible-thumping preachers traveling the revival tent circuit. I highly recommend this book. I did not read the print version.
Anthony Heald is the bomb on this production. He takes you right into the heart and soul and conscience of each character.