It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I like Sinclair Lewis. I do. This is the fifth book I've read of his (The others being his most famous, Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith, and Elmer Gantry), but I do NOT like this book. It has none of the charm or satirical wit of his other well-regarded novels. And even though talking heads love to bring up this book whenever they feel that the government is encroaching too much on our rights, I feel like this book is the most out of touch out of all the ones I've read of his. Can it happen here? The answer is no. No, it can't.
Written during the Great Depression, I really could see the kind of fear that would inspire this kind of book. America was just getting to know Hitler, and the idea of an America run like Nazi Germany (with concentration camps and everything), might have seemed like a real possibility. But today, knowing where we stand in the world, it really does look like Sinclair Lewis bet on black, when he should have bet on red. It's not his fault, but the book, in my eyes, doesn't work because of it.
There's also the fact that I don't care about a single one of the characters. Especially not the protagonist, Doremus Jessup, who really doesn't do anything of great value to earn my respect, even though he's meant to.
A lot of names get tossed around and I get the feeling that the message is what was respected back in its time rather than the actual story, which falls flat--especially in the ending, which is super abrupt. In the end, It Can't Happen Here is a disappointment, and probably the last book I'll ever read by Sinclair Lewis. I don't recommend it. Like, at all.
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