While reading Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again (1940) I came across something I'd like to quote here. As with most of Wolfe's work, it's autobiographical and the following comes from a chapter when he - George Webber - meets Sinclair Lewis - (fictionalized as Lloyd McHarg; link). If you've got the time, I recommend reading Webber and McHarg's whole adventure (it's pretty hilarious).
Overlooking Minnesota's Big Pelican Lake is a lodge, a large one, renowned for the visitors it's attracted in its long history. Everyone from actors to governors have stayed there, planting themselves on Breezy Point Resort's long, lumber decks overlooking the lake. It's some of the state's best fishing and also the spot where the author Sinclair Lewis met future-governor Floyd B. Olson for the first, and only, time in 1926. Spending the first half of the year in Kansas City gathering material for his next book in June Lewis headed to Breezy Point to sit down and write. His choice of the northwoods was twofold as it "offered a sophisticated inn where he could get a good meal and drink with Minneapolis' business elite, as well as rustic isolation" (Lingeman 282). When he wasn't writing, Lewis could be found in the lodge doing impressions (as he was known for) or leading guests "in hymn singing around the piano" (Lingeman 285). Many of these he knew by heart since childhood but some came from his time shadowing ministers for what would become Elmer Gantry.
Studying America in England While going through the University of Minnesota's online archives, I came across an article called "Studying America in England" from The Minnesota Alumni Weekly (December 12, 1931). Written by a fresh alumna named Mildred Boie (class of '27), in it she talks of her trip to Cambridge to study English literature. Specifically, she … Continue reading “I have never been there, but I have read Babbitt — and the villages are all Main Streetish, aren’t they?”