Lewis, Dickens, and Philips

Sinclair LewisOn this day in 1812, the great novelist Charles Dickens was born. I admire him as a writer. He was a master storyteller. Just the same, I think that I’ve only ever read A Tale of Two Cities and The Adventures of Oliver Twist. I look at David Copperfield and Bleak House and (Good God!) The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and I just can’t bring myself to pick up the books. There is a difference between pacing and plodding. I have a theory. Every book ever written could be improved by being cut by 10%. The 19th century novels could generally be cut by 50%. Just saying.

The comedian Emo Philips is 58 today. I don’t have much to say about him. It is just an opportunity to present some of his act. He is one of the greats:

Other birthdays: philosopher Thomas More (1478); novelist Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867); mathematician G H Hardy (1877); great songwriter Eubie Blake (1887); saxophonist King Curtis (1934); actor Pete Postlethwaite (1946); actor James Spader (54); total fucktard Garth Brooks (52); comedian Chris Rock (49); and another fucktard Ashton Kutcher (36).

The day, however, belongs to the great American novelist Sinclair Lewis who was born on this day in 1885. Like most people, I know him from two novels: It Can’t Happen Here, about fascism coming to America in the form of a Huey Long or a Father Coughlin; and Elmer Gantry, a satirical novel about religion in the 1920s. The great thing about both novels is that they are as relevant today as ever. We have our fascist leaning politicians today, but they don’t offer economic populism, they offer social populism. And Elmer Gantry would require basically no changes to modernize it to today. Of course, Lewis is much more than just a political writer. He is arguably better than John Steinbeck in terms of creating vivid characters. There is perhaps no higher compliment I could pay.

Happy birthday Sinclair Lewis!

0 thoughts on “Lewis, Dickens, and Philips

  1. I need to read more Lewis. I adored "Main Street" (essentially, about small-minded Republican town "leaders" in the Midwest.) I just don’t read as much fiction as I used to . . . gotta get back to that.

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