Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Unconsumed: Arrowsmith

In my quest to read every Pulitzer Prize winning novel I come to Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. Arrowsmith picked up the Pulitzer for the 1926 season. It features a young man named Martin Arrowsmith who studies to become a doctor. He is from a fictional town in a fictional state somewhere in the neighborhood of Indiana (there is a place called Wheatsylvania, too). The first hundred pages feature Martin running around with two women at the same time, getting kicked out of school, returning to school, getting married, studying hard, and just being a young medical student in the 1920's. A hundred pages of this and despite all of these things happening during the first hundred pages I would swear nothing really happened. I had to keep going back and reading the previous couple of pages to remember what just happened and that's not a good sign.

I actually read 140 pages of Arrowsmith before I accepted the fact that I just did not care and that it would take me two more weeks to finish the book and that it was not worth the time spent reading it. Arrowsmith is only the third Pulitzer Prize winning novel (out of the 30 I have read) which I have been unable to finish. The other two are The Age of Innocence and The Able McLaughlins. While Arrowsmith was better and more readable than the other two, it just was not worth the effort...and that's what it would have been, an effort. 140 pages and we haven't touched upon the central issue of medical ethics which supposedly the entire novel is about. It may have been Sinclair Lewis's Masterpiece, winning the Pulitzer and helping Lewis along for the Nobel, but it's not for me.

Next Up:
March, by Geraldine Brooks
Early Autumn, by Louis Bromfield

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