11 July 2008

Lake Wobegon Summer 1956

Previously I had not had much success reading Garrison Keillor novels, but somehow when I opened this book this time, it clicked with me, and I read it straight through (it goes quick).

We bought the book back when we lived in Columbus. We'd seen Keillor read from it, but we weren't patient enough to wait in line for his autograph. I still remember the pleasure of listening to Keillor read; not that different from the pleasure of listening to his radio show. And as I read the novel yesterday, I could hear his voice in my head, as if it were reciting a single closing monologue.

The book offers the pleasures of a closing monologue: a homespun voice poking gentle fun at religion and delighting in dirty jokes (the protagonist is a 14-year-old boy). It is by no means a serious book--I can't say I learned anything much--but it is an enjoyable one, and offers a pleasantly nostalgic remembrance of life in a midwestern small town in the 1950s, which includes not only its charms, but also the urgent need to escape those charms.

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