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Free Air by Sinclair Lewis
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's review
Mar 09, 12

Read in February, 2012

Light but lovely - it's not On the Road, but it's getting there, as a journey of geographic and personal discovery through the West in 1916, full of little details of food, hotels, flivvers and cupboards with pierced-tin doors, and all the immigrants and plutes and fourflushers. There's something quite irritating in the non-travel bits of the story - boy improving himself for the sake of a society girl's affections and she of course needs to improve herself too but they're both such swell kids... argh. Lewis's avuncular tone makes it bearable and this was after all an early work.

Propelled me into Babbitt which is really wonderful, so far full stop.

Edit: I was reminded by Milt in Free Air of a book I read in uni, which took a bit of digging round to find again: Jack London's Martin Eden, which is about a rough fellow's progress towards the light (after meeting a girl, of course) and what it does to him. Free Air is a much lighter treatment of the basically same thing (plus the travelogue). Must read Martin Eden again though as images in it have stayed with me for 20 years.

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