Thursday, May 12, 2005

Garrison Keillor

A World in your Ear had an interview with Garrison Keillor - muse of the Prairie Home Companion - this week (sorry, the first link may well no longer relate to that programme by the time you look at this). It reminded me of how highly I esteem Keillor's work.

I first happened across it when we started a reading group before I left home. I picked Lake Wobegon Days up almost by chance, and loved it. I worked my way through all of his books that I could find - particularly enjoying the ones that had spun off from the Prairie Home Companion. I then tried to get hold of his books when they came out, but I have to confess I was a little disappointed with Radio Romance. Whereas the writing (and speaking) for PHC and Lake Wobegon Days seemed to be pastiche, the influences of his prairie upbringing seemed to be heading more towards parody, and the liberal influences of the big city and the university seemed more desirable. (As characters might say in Lake Wobegon, "Who do you think you are?")

With Wobegon Boy, Keillor seemed to return to his roots - the book was more positive about small town upbringing, and the "real people".

I was particularly engaged by Keillor's portrayal of life within a small group of brethren (a fairly exclusive Christian denomination). Having been brought up within a non-conformist evangelical church, and also having come into contact with strict strict baptists, a lot of the remarks he made about the tensions within the group in LWD were uncomfortably close to the truth - as well as being very funny. One of the other images from the books that stands out in my mind is, in Leaving Home the Lutheran Ministers' barbeque on a boat on the lake, which ends up with all the ministers standing in the lake, looking around expectantly as though this is just the next part of the entertainment ....

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