Main Street (Annotated): 100th Anniversary Edition
Written by Sinclair Lewis⎮ Narrated by Kitty Hendrix
Author: Sinclair Lewis
Narrator: Kitty Hendrix
Length: 19 hours and 15 minutes
Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
Released: Oct. 31, 2019
Genre: Classics, American Literature
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This 100th Anniversary Edition includes:
A new Foreword by biographer Richard Lingeman
A new Afterword to the Audiobook by Dr. Sally Parry.
Published on October 23, 1920, Main Street was the first of Sinclair Lewis's great successes. According to biographer Mark Schorer, it "was the most sensational event in 20th-century American publishing history, from the point of view both of sales and of public response. The printers could not keep up with the orders, and for a while the publishers had to ration out copies to book-sellers."
A biting satire that countered the American myth of wholesome small-town life with a depiction of narrow-minded provincialism, it was to some degree based on Lewis's own experience of growing on Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Set in mid-1910s, it depicts the struggles of Carol Kennicott, a city girl, as she tries to adapt to small town life, having left her librarian job and St. Paul, Minnesota to marry Dr. Will Kennicott of Gopher Prairie. Dismayed by the town’s drabness and the conforming, petty inhabitants, Carol optimistically sets out to improve the town, only to find her ideas met with distrust and derision, and herself becoming a pariah.
Lewis was in the vanguard of a generation of American writers seeking realism to their work (Ernest Hemingway. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Willa Cather, Theodore Dreiser...). Lewis’s intimate knowledge of small-town America and subtle characterizations make Main Street a compelling classic still surprisingly relevant today: the religious bigotry, racism, puritanical righteousness, and duplicitous business practices Lewis exposes are with us still. His portrayal of women, especially Carol, is surprisingly sensitive, and his depiction of marriage and the compromises expected of woman offer both insightful social commentary and convincing realism.
The Pulitzer Committee recommended Lewis for the Pulitzer for Main Street in 1921, but the Trustees of Colombia University overruled the jury. In 1923, Lewis's "Babbitt" was chosen, but again the committee was overruled by the Trustees. He was finally awarded the Pulitzer in 1926 for "Arrowsmith", but he turned it down - becoming the first writer to do so. In 1930, he became the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The committee, wrote: Main Streetexemplifies Lewis’ “vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters."
Meet the Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press
Established in 2010, Post Hypnotic Press founders have over 40 years experience in the audio world (Carl Craig, Technical Director) and 40 years experience in the entertainment and publishing industries (Carlyn Craig, Publisher). We have worked with a variety of actors and voice talent, including well-known narrators like Simon Vance, Gerard Doyle, and Heather Henderson, and we are also thrilled to be introducing talented and experienced actors like Colleen Winton, Lisa Bunting, Rebecca Jenkins, Eileen Barrett, Dave Adams, and Michael Puttonen – to name only a few – to the audiobook world. We have recorded bestselling authors Gabor Maté, Maggie Scarf, Joel Bakan, Jennifer Margulis, Gail Bowen, Lawrence Martin, John Taylor Gatto and more. With an eclectic mix of compelling, informative and timely non-fiction titles and fun, exciting fiction titles for the whole family, we know you’ll find something to enjoy. We appreciate it when people buy direct from us, but for your convenience, you’ll also find our books available through a number of distributors, including audible.com, simplyaudiobooks.com, emusic, ITunes, audiobooks.com, Skybrite.com, EBSCO, Overdrive, and more. Librarians, our regular CDs are available through MidWest Tape and you can order MP3 CDs directly from us (bulk pricing is available).
In the last week, I’ve listened to Kitty Hendrix's narration of the 100 year old novel Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. The writing is certainly personal and engaging. Ms. Hendrix narration matches it perfectly. Ostensibly, Main Street is in a way about every Main Street in America, viewed through the lens of one character, Carol Kendicott, on one fictional town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. As the story begins, Carol is a college graduate, soon to be librarian. She has grand plans to make some small town a place worth living, in her own meaning of the term. She, in due course of time meets Dr. Will Kendicott & moves to the town of 3000 in high hopes of accomplishing her dreams.
Main Street of Gopher Prairie unfortunately isn’t ready to be molded by the young idealist. The main body of the story is Carol gradually coming to terms with who she is, who she wants to be, and where exactly that fits in a very slowly evolving society.
Whenever I read or listen to a book, I make comparisons in my mind and question what the author’s purpose was. In a sense, Sinclair Lewis in this book is an American Charles Dickens. Statements are made, sometimes overtly and sometimes less so about some of the injustices of our society (or in this case, the American small town society of the 1910’s). But unlike Dickens, there is no deep plot as it were. Ultimately, this story is a snapshot of one woman's life, becoming a wife, mother, community member, rebel, nursemaid and so forth. Though Lewis extensively paints the picture of Gopher Prairie and the sometimes caricaturized inhabitants, ultimately, I felt like this story is about 1 person – Carol, who is a stand in for Sinclair Lewis himself. Main Street is inevitable (kind of like Thanos?). It will be what it will be. Society will go on much as it has.
But where does Carol fit? Where do I fit & where do you fit? Again and again I was struck with the conflict that was Carol. My biggest takeaways are to 1- know yourself, TRULY know yourself, 2 – Be TRUE to yourself. Figure out what that means and be authentic to yourself & those around you, and 3- Accept others as they are. They have ambitions, doubts, things they’re passionate about & things that will never interest them. But in this book, Carols assumptions about others and her assumption that she can change others creates unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
There were several times when listening to Main Street that I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. It’s a book that makes you think. And it makes you think about how you might think you are better than others and where you’re wrong. And even a century later, it's incredibly relevant. Technology may have made it much easier to connect with anyone, anywhere, but ultimately, Main Street is still seen in every small town to whatever small community you are a part of. I especially liked Carol's realization that in the big city, she would be interacting with a similarly small community of people ultimately. We are who we are, and it has less to do with the setting we are in and more to do with how comfortable we are in the shoes we've chosen to inhabit.
So – Rating the book – Writing – 5 stars. Plot – 3 stars. If you’re looking for an engaging page turner, mystery, or action, the plot is not what drives this book. It just follows Carol and Main Street through several years. If you want a book to make you think, check out Main Street.
This is the first book I’ve listened to by Kitty Hendrix & she did fabulous on it. Sometimes I found her male characters a little caricatured, but that was as much the writing as her narration.