Sinclair Lewis, car guy

April 25, 2017

Being the car guy that I am, or was, I'm surprised that I had never heard about Sinclair Lewis's early novel Free Air, (1919) "one of the very first novels about an automobile-powered road trip across the United States," according to an article in The Public Domain Review.

As I'm sure you know, Lewis (1885–1951) is enjoying new popularity lately, thanks to his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, about an authoritarian American president. And I'm sure everyone has read, seen the movie, or knows about Main Street, Elmer Gantry, Arrowsmith, and Babbitt, and that he won a Nobel & a Pulitzer. But that he was an early adopter of the automobile was new to me. He also wrote about pilots & aviation, and traveled widely. His appreciation of big city values and opportunities resonates with me, another person who left a midwestern hometown for the big city.

“No American, if he can help it, dies in his birthplace," he wrote (although he was buried in his hometown of Sauk Centre, Minnesota).