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Stories of Sinclair Lewis
From the Sauk Centre Herald

1) Lewis and Bryant Library
2) Cast gets into Sinclair Lewis' skin
3) Bookseller remembers afternoon with Lewis
4) Is Lewis relavent?
5) Carol Kennicott returns to Main Street
6) Lewis scholars celebrate 75th anniversary of Babbitt
7) Enlightened on Lewis
8) The German side of Sinclair Lewis
9) The athletic side of Sinclair Lewis

Lewis and Bryant Library

by Dave Simpkins

It is appropriate for the Bryant Library to be celebrating the centennial of its Carnegie building during Sinclair Lewis Days.
Lewis was a born bookworm growing up in a family of readers who supported the library.
Lewis' father, Dr. Edwin Lewis, came to town with two wagons, one filled with household items and medical supplies and the other filled with books.
Lewis' step-mother, Isabel Lewis, belonged to the Gradatim Club hosting many book readings in the living room of their home.
The tall, thin Lewis spent much of his time with his nose in a book. It was his job to split firewood. He created a method of propping a book in the crotch of a tree. He would read a few paragraphs, chop a few logs, read and chop, read and chop.
It is said he read all the books in the library collection before graduating from high school in 1904.
When Lewis and his wife Gracie returned to Sauk Centre for the summer of 1916 the Sauk Centre Herald reported, "Lewis had gained recognition as one of the most compelling young fiction writers in the country," who wrote, "gems of short stories" whose latest novel, "The Trail of the Hawk" was "among the year's best sellers"
After a talk at the Commercial Club the Herald reported Lewis was a "rapid fire talker"
Lewis became famous for his short stories in the Saturday Evening Post along side the drawings of Norman Rockwell.
Lewis gave a benefit lecture to raise money for the library giving a talk on "the real inside of how the modern literature of today is made." Donations totaled 25 cents.
Lewis had worked in the publishing business before he was an author becoming friends and business partner with the up and coming Alfred Harcourt who would found Harcourt, Brace and Howe. Lewis and Harcourt brought many innovative ideas into the publishing of Main Street in 1920 making it the largest selling book up to that time.
Main Street took a satirical view of small town America and many of the characters look all too much like people from Sauk Centre. Some people protested it being on the shelves of the Bryant Library. Those protests died down when Lewis became the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930.
In the 1930's, Lewis sent about 80 books to the library including his best sellers, books sent to him to be reviewed and books he felt Sauk Centre would enjoy reading. Many of these books were autographed by the authors.
Lewis wrote the books were a payment for the debt he owed the library for providing him with so much entertainment and knowledge while he was growing up.
Inscribed on the jacket of a copy Main Street was, "To the Bryant Library, Sauk Centre, with love and with lovely memory of the days when its books were my greatest adventure," Sinclair Lewis, New York, Nov. 6 1937. An article in the Minneapolis Journal hinted this was in atonement for the ruckus the book created.
Lewis would find even more adventures in today's Bryant Library. Now part of the Great River Regional Library System, the library has a limitless collection of books, tapes and videos as well as the internet to explore.

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