Friday, August 04, 2017

It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here. Sinclair Lewis. 1935. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The handsome dining room of the Hotel Wessex, with its gilded plaster shields and the mural depicting the Green Mountains, had been reserved for the Ladies' Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club.

Premise/plot: Could America become a fascist nation seemingly overnight? That was the question raised in Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here. This political what-if novel was published in 1935, a year before the 1936 election. The novel itself begins in 1936; the early chapters chronicle the '36 election. FDR, the current president, is running again, but in Lewis' novel he loses badly. Who wins? A racist, sexist, power-mad politician named Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. The rest of the novel sees the collapse of America--at least America as a democratic nation. Windrip wins because of his promises; his promises proclaim that he's for the people: that people will have better, richer lives if they vote for him. But it isn't long before people start regretting--deeply regretting--aligning themselves with such a monster.

The main character of the novel is a newspaper man named Doremus Jessup. Jessup opposes Buzz and all he stands for. He sees that America is in deep trouble. He eventually joins a new underground movement, a rebellion. His actions do have consequences. But so would his inaction. I think that's one of the points perhaps: fear of consequences can keep you from acting, but fear doesn't keep you safe--fear doesn't keep the world from falling apart around you.

My thoughts: Did I like this one? Maybe. I didn't really like any of the characters. Jessup wasn't as sympathetic as you might suppose. Human, yes. We see into his family life: meet his mistress, his wife, his daughters, his son-in-law, etc. We learn a little about his religious beliefs, and a lot about his political beliefs. He's far from the ideal man, but, by comparison I suppose he's better than the actual politicians and those swept up in the mad schemes. The novel covers several years....

Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours! (17)
Summarized, the letter said that he was all against the banks but all for the bankers--except the Jewish bankers, who were to be driven out of finance entirely; that he had thoroughly tested (but unspecified) plans to make all wages very high and the prices of everything produced by these same highly paid workers very low; that he was 100 percent for labor but 100 percent against all strikes; and that he was in favor the United States so arming itself, so preparing to produce its own coffee, sugar, perfumes, tweeds, and nickel instead of importing them, that it could defy the World...and maybe, if that World was so impertinent as to defy America in turn, Buzz hinted, he might have to take it over and run it properly. (57)
His political platforms were only wings of a windmill. (70)
And daily he wanted louder, more convincing Yeses from everybody about him. (340)
Here in Canada the Americans had their Weeping Wall, and daily cried with false, gallant hope, "Next year in Jerusalem!" (368)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP