INSTALLMENT #7 OF MY READING QUEST

THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT by Sloan Wilson

I declared a quest back in 2014 to read a book by an author from each state, so here is what I read for Connecticut (the 7th installment)

p552_p_v8_aa The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson – the title conjures up so much – the life of the uninspired doing undistinguished things. But, it this our hero Tom Rath?

Tom has a beautiful wife, three kids, a house in the New York suburbs and a good job with a future. Getting off the 5:30 train, he arrives home for a cold martini and a meal from his wife. He is even about to inherit a mansion on Long Island from his wealthy grandmother. Is this the perfect life? Apparently not, because neither Tom, or his wife Betsey, are remotely happy. 

His wife finds him emotionally distant since returning from World War II, his kids are spoiled and the mansion he is inheriting from his grandmother is more than a fixer-upper, it is bogged down with zoning problems and lawsuits. The great job he has in New York is a total bore.

See, Tom suffers from PTSD, (a phrase not known until the late 1970’s);  he killed 17 men, including his best friend and now he finds out he fathered and left a child in Italy. Sloan Wilson himself talked about moral ambiguities as stated below:

“there was considerable irony in the fact that he had been highly praised for killing seventeen men during the war, but was in peril of disgrace for fathering one son.”

So, is Tom going to open up to his wife, is he going to be honest or suffocate in his past?

By today’s standards, the book seems a little sentimental and a little dated. But, the writing is sharp and the heart of the book still resonates today (and Sloan Wilson likes happy endings).

Sloan Wilson graduated from Harvard University in 1942 and served in World War II as an officer of the Coast Guard. He worked as a reporter for Time-Life and was a professor at the State University of New York’s University of Buffalo. Success made him wealthy, and as I mentioned previously, he struggled with alcoholism and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He spent several years living on a boat in Virginia and also off Virginia Key near Coconut Grove, Florida.

He also wrote the classic A SUMMER PLACE, which I also read. I’m not going to discuss it here, but I will say, the movie made in 1959 is a pale portrait of the book.

UnknownHere are some fun and interesting facts about Connecticut

  • The name comes from a Mohegan Indian word for “long river place” or “beside the long tidal river”
  • called the “nutmeg state” because residents were ingenious enough to sell wooden carved nutmegs disguised as real ones in colonial America, as nutmeg was very valuable at that time.
  • Connecticut had two capitals from 1703 to 1875 – Hartford and New Haven.
  • The first revolver was produced here in 1836.
  • The first portable typewriter was produced in 1843.
  • The first automobile law was passed in 1901 with an astounding speed limit set at 12 mph! 
  • “The Hartford Courant” is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States (since 1764.
  • The oldest public library in the US is in Connecticut.
  • The first pay phone in the United States was established here in 1877.
  • The Polaroid camera was developed here.
  • Because candy was too large for a child’s mouth, George Smith (of course, from Connecticut) put the candy on a stick and named it after a racehorse, thus the Lolly Pop was born.
  • Famous sons and daughters include Ethan Allan, P.T. Barnum, Charles Goodyear, Katherine Hepburn,  Noah Webster, among others.

Next up is Delaware, I have chosen books through Hawaii, so I’m back in the saddle of my quest!!!

Any suggestions for Idaho? I have a book chosen for Iowa, Louisianna, Missouri and North Carolina – random isn’t it?

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “INSTALLMENT #7 OF MY READING QUEST

  1. Amy Putkonen

    How was the movie compared to the book? I am imagining that it was a pretty controversial movie of the time – a real step out of his typical roles for Gregory Peck? Perhaps not… I’ve only seen him in a few movies and he always seems like a super nice guy. This must have been interesting to see it come out and view people’s reactions. I know that you are talking about the book here, but this image is clearly from the movie poster.

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