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jbradway

jbradway

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Elmer Gantry

Elmer Gantry - Sinclair Lewis Elmer Gantry is sporadically fascinating and engaging - the first third of the novel flies by as you are immersed in the many character flaws of a spiritual huckster. Eventually, the book became very easy to put down, however. Gantry begins as a carousing atheist undergraduate rebelling against his conservative Christian roots. It's not long, though, before he discovers his gift for oration will most easily satisfy his tremendous ambitions if put to use in the pulpit.And the spoiler bit follows:The reason the novel ultimately disappoints, is that Gantry is correct. Being vindicated in his early discovery, that one could be preacher and spiritual adviser as a means merely to enrich and increase status, leaves little room for growth of Gantry. The arc of the novel becomes the exterior success of the main character, touching little on the internal growth of the 'protagonist'. Elmer could be a great literary antihero, if only he had evolved a bit through the process of succeeding.I'm left thinking I may have picked the wrong Sinclair Lewis; the writing itself is quite good. Sorry that my main criticism is ultimately a spoiler. I'm tempted to rate it lower due to this criticism, but cannot because the end result is a pretty scathing commentary on American culture of the 1920's that remains relevant today.