From Content: "When the windshield was closed it became so filmed with rain that Claire fancied she was piloting a drowned car in dim spaces under the sea. When it was open, drops jabbed into her eyes and chilled her cheeks. She was excited and thoroughly miserable. She realized that these Minnesota country roads had no respect for her polite experience on Long Island parkways. She felt like a woman, not like a driver. But the Gomez-Dep roadster had seventy horsepower, and sang songs. Since she had left Minneapolis nothing had passed her. Back yonder a truck had tried to crowd her, and she had dropped into a ditch, climbed a bank, returned to the road, and after that the truck was not. Now she was regarding a view more splendid than mountains above a garden by the sea—a stretch of good road. To her passenger, her father, Claire chanted: "Heavenly! There's some gravel. We can make time. We'll hustle on to the next town and get dry." "Yes. But don't mind me. You're doing very well," her father sighed. Instantly, the dismay of it rushing at her, she saw the end of the patch of gravel. The road ahead was a wet black smear, criss-crossed with ruts. The car shot into a morass of prairie gumbo—which is mud mixed with tar, fly-paper, fish glue, and well-chewed, chocolate-covered caramels. When cattle get into gumbo, the farmers send for the stump-dynamite and try blasting. It was her first really bad stretch of road. She was frightened. Then she was too appallingly busy to be frightened, or to be Miss Claire Boltwood, or to comfort her uneasy father. She had to drive. Her frail graceful arms put into it a vicious vigor that was genius. When the wheels struck the slime, they slid, they wallowed. The car skidded. It was terrifyingly out of control. It began majestically to turn toward the ditch. She fought the steering wheel as though she were shadow-boxing, but the car kept contemptuously staggering till it was sideways, straight across the road. Somehow, it was back again, eating into a rut, going ahead. She didn't know how she had done it, but she had got it back. She longed to take time to retrace her own cleverness in steering. She didn't. She kept going. The car backfired, slowed. She yanked the gear from third into first. She sped up. The motor ran like a terrified pounding heart, while the car crept on by inches through filthy mud that stretched ahead of her without relief. She was battling to hold the car in the principal rut. She snatched the windshield open, and concentrated on that left rut. She felt that she was keeping the wheel from climbing those high sides of the rut, those six-inch walls of mud, sparkling with tiny grits. Her mind snarled at her arms, "Let the ruts do the steering. You're just fighting against them." It worked. Once she let the wheels alone they comfortably followed the furrows, and for three seconds she had that delightful belief of every motorist after every mishap, "Now that this particular disagreeableness is over, I'll never, never have any trouble again!"
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Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) was an American novelist and playwright who, in 1930, became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature. His first published book was Hike and the Aeroplane, which appeared in 1912 under the pseudonym Tom Graham, followed by Our Mr Wrenn (1914). Main Street (1920) was his first major commercial success. It was initially awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, but was rejected by the Board of Trustees. Babbitt (1922) is a satire on American values, its main theme is the power of conformity and the vacuity of American life. Lewis was awarded the Pulitzer Prize again in 1926 - which he rejected - for Arrowsmith (1925), a novel about an idealistic doctor. Elmer Gantry (1927) was the story of an opportunistic evangelist. His last great work was It Can't Happen Here (1935), a speculative novel about the election of a Fascist President.About the Author:
SINCLAIR LEWIS (1885-1951), the son of a country doctor, was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. He attended Yale University, where he was editor of the literary magazine, and graduated in 1907. After a few of his stories had appeared in magazines and his first novel, Our Mr. Wrenn (1914), had been published, he was able to write full time. He was awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith (1925) but refused to accept this honor. However, he accepted the Nobel Prize awarded him in 1930, becoming the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American society and capitalist values, as well as for their strong characterizations of modern working women.
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