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mr. mannion,

i've been lurking, reading and enjoying your work for months, but this deserves acknowledgment. thirty-five years ago, i tried to convince my thesis adviser that "main street" was the most modern novel i'd ever read (he wasn't convinced). twenty-five years ago, i tried to convince several producers that it would make a thoroughly modern movie (they weren't convinced). since i've retired to the hudson valley, i've used it often to explain to myself the mysterious ways of a modern "small town" life (i'm completely convinced).

why don't they teach sinclair lewis? my parents' generation considered him an important writer and their parents knew him as a best selling author who was the first american to win the nobel for literature. our generation had to discover him (after reading an assigned "main street" or "babbitt") and my son's generation has no idea who he was (unless they've been conned into watching "elmer gantry" and been lectured by a pedantic parent at the beginning). i know there's a lot of crap in his body of work, but a few of those novels remain startlingly timeless and would serve so well to show teenagers that things haven't really changed much, at all (while actually opening the door to an interest in history as something totally identifiable).

your observations are exactly right and beautifully stated. thanks.


I'm tired of the media's Wall Street vs. Main Street chant. Politicians from both left and right are loving the resurgence of class-warfare rhetoric: "it's Wall Street vs. Main Street and the Knights of government will ride to the voter's rescue".

I did a whimsical illustration of this.

Janelle Dvorak

I feel the same way about Sarah Palin's condescending use of "Joe Sixpack" to lump together all working men. I say "working men" advisedly, since strangely enough she seems to focus on women as "soccer moms" or "hockey moms".


Do you live in Pine Bush?


Do you live in Pine Bush?


It's really pretty simple: America was simply always a capitalist country, and was precisely designed to be one. After all, it was Alexander Hamilton himself who started the New York Stock Exchange - as an inherent and central part of his economic plan for the country.

Notice the difference between the archetypal American Main Street and the archetypal Grand Square of the medieval European city-state or the ancient Greco-Roman polis. In the center of the medieval city or the polis is the temple or church (the gods, essentially). On the other side of the square is one of two buildings: either the castle/palace of the prince or the hotel de ville/rathaus (essentially, political life). In the square itself are the stalls of commerce.

Of course, in some of the earliest New England towns, we do have the town common which is bordered by the church and town hall.

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