(P)1996 by Recorded Books, Inc.; Cover Art in Arrangement with The Granger Collection, New York
"A most searching and excellent piece of work; a feather in the cap of literature." (John Galsworthy)
When downloading this book, I was unsure which reading to choose. First I noticed that this reading is about 2 hours longer than the other one, meaning that the other recording was read at a much faster clip. I listened to the audio samples and decided this was the superior choice. I was not disappointed. Ms. Caruso is a fantastic storyteller. I have noticed that even excellent male readers sometimes annoy with their falsetto "female" voices, but Ms. Caruso does an excellent job with the men in this story, while of course doing a wonderful Carol. She brings the 85-year-old dialog to life with a delightful, graceful rhythm that flows as naturally as if it were written last year. I wish she had narrated more books that interested me. Maybe I'll check out "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" just for her.
As for the book itself, I was surprised by just how relevant Mr. Lewis's depiction of life in 1910s Gopher Prairie remains today. We really have not changed much as a nation. Or perhaps we've circled back around. The story of Carol chafing against the small town that thinks the world of itself (and thinks rather little of the world) is poingnant, personal and well-told, while people and attitudes of Gopher Prairie are clearly recognizable in our current national characer. Listen to this book and realize that America exists in the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. Indeed, America is the struggle between Carol and Gopher Prairie. In 2005, as in the 1910s, GP has the upper hand. At other times the Carols of America have, and at some point they will again. But one without the other would not truly be America.
I highly recommend this Audiobook as a wonderful reading of one of the Great American Novels.
This great classic by Sinclair Lewis is a mix of well drawn characters that both touches your heart and engages your mind. Although its fame lies in its depiction of the provincialism of Midwest attitudes, it far surpasses this narrow view of the book. It touches on our humanity. This also happens to be an oustanding narration with excellent audio clarity. Outstanding classic by one of America's leading literary lights.
I first purchased a less expensive audible version of this book and - try as I might - I simply couldn't get into the narrator's rendition of the classic. I balked at the thought of spending an additional, and relatively high, amount on a second version but finally bit the bullet. Well, it was *so* worth it! Ms Caruso's reading is engrossing - she captures the meaning and innuendos of Lewis' words in a pleasing voice.
I recommend paying the price - it will make all the difference in experiencing "Main Street."
What a disappointment! "Main Street" tells the story of Carol Kennicott, a city girl who marries a small town doctor, and finds her new life in Gopher Prairie unbearably stultifying. She tries scheme after scheme to spark some intellectual life into the backward village, only to find her efforts frustrated by the obdurate blockheads who comprise the town. She flirts with the idea of having an affair with a young tailor, but never really moves much beyond daydreaming about it. Later, she leaves her husband, taking a bureaucratic position in Washington during World War I. After a year or so of that, she returns to Gopher Prairie, proud of herself that she never really surrendered to its dullness.
That's the plot. Truthfully, it's hard to make an exciting novel out of a story whose theme is tedium. But the deficiencies of this novel go far deeper than the feeble story line. The fundamental defect is that the protagonist is a self-centered purblind twit. She rails against the narrow-mindedness of her husband, but doesn't see how omphalocentric is her own desire to recast the entire town in her own image.
Running throughout this novel, sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, is a dyspeptic view of America and Americans. It is more than satirical; it is misanthropic. Like other socialists, it seems that Lewis loved mankind but didn't like people, at least not his countrymen. The townsfolk of Gopher Prairie are portrayed as buffoons. Even Carol's husband, Dr. Will Kennicutt, is portrayed by Lewis as a stereotype, not a real person. Here is a man who can amputate a farmer's arm on a kitchen table by the light of a lantern, focusing on his duty rather than the too-real risk that the lantern flame might spark an explosion of the ether anesthetic. Yet, Carol--and apparently Lewis, too--finds him a dull character.
Lewis was the first American to win a Nobel prize in literature. He was the kind of American writer that chauvinistic Europeans could love.
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