“It has not been my custom to spend more than eight months in any one place. I have traveled though thirty-six states and have lived in eight or ten, in addition to visiting eighteen different foreign countries, but Vermont is the first place I have seen where I really wanted to have my home — a place to spend the rest of my life…”
Sinclair Lewis, Speech in Rutland, Vermont, September 23, 1929
This framed quote greeted David and I when we stepped into the “Sinclair Lewis Room” of the lovely and scenic Weathertop Mountain Inn in Waitsfield, Vermont. We’ve journeyed to this lovely spot to see Alex ride his bicycle in the “Green Mountain Stage Race.” The weather is great and all is green and I’m excited! Not just because of the race, but because I’m a writer … and by happenstance, David and I booked a stay in a room dedicated to one of the 20th century’s greatest writers and social critics, Sinclair Lewis. How inspiring!
Our “Welcome to the Sinclair Lewis Room” guide includes a pithy essay which ends with this comment: “Sinclair Lewis was the social critic and satirist of his era. He was an exceedingly successful, yet controversial bestseller. While always positive about America’s potential and future, he was dissatisfied with America’s complacency, mediocrity, and moral narrow-mindedness.”
Wow! This comment really grabbed my attention. I read Main Street back in high school, but that was a few moons ago. Not to worry! If I want to dip into Sinclair, my room at the inn is well equipped: There are some lovely old copies of Babbitt, Elmer Gantry, and Arrowsmith just waiting for me. I’m looking forward to dipping into them in the evening. Here’s a little peek at the opening of Elmer Gantry:
“Elmer Gentry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk. He leaned against the bar of the Old Home Sample Room, the most gilded and urbane saloon in Cato, Missouri, and requested the bartender to join him in “The Good Old Summer Time,” the waltz of the day.”
“Elmer Gantry was drunk.” Not a bad opening line, is it? Who knew that coming up here to Vermont, I’d be reacquainting myself with an author who may have a lot to teach me. Now, isn’t the writing life mysterious and wonderful? Write on!