May 10, 2014 by Beth - I SNIFF BOOKS blog
It is no secret that I’m a big fan of Garrison Keillor through his Prairie Home Companion public radio show, so it was a real treat (especially since the book got released earlier than predicted!) to pick up The Keillor Reader and become familiar with some of his other writings that were featured in the The New Yorker, The Atlantic, newspaper columns, and other published works.
Keillor has hand-picked each selection and each selection has its own introduction on why it was chosen for this book and why it was originally written — insights like are great fun, it’s like crawling right into Keillor’s head and hanging out for awhile.
The book opens up with The News from Lake Wobegon section. Having recently reread Like Among the Lutherans (review here) and previously Leaving Home, I was familiar with many of the selections in this chapter, but I was very pleasantly surprised that Gospel Birds in this collection (also appearing in LATL) had a different ending! Some new to me reading treats include: Growing up with the Flambeaus and Chickens. The second section, Iconic Pajamas, includes some parodies and also pieces that inspired some of the long-running features on his weekly radio show. Henry was hilarious, and I enjoyed reading Lonesome Shorty which was the short piece that provided the inspiration for the “Lives of the Cowboys” radio serial. Section three, Guys I Have Known, wasn’t one of my favorite sections in the book, but there were still quite a few stories I enjoyed such as Jimmy Seeks His Fortune in Fairbanks and Snowman. Also in this section appears At the New Yorker: My Own Memoir, I got a few pages in, Keillor dropped the f-bomb, which really surprised me as it definitely doesn’t seem his style, the use of this curse word seemed more for show or shock value than for the rare instance when such language can actually seem mildly appropriate in context. The last section, Life’s Little Day, is more autobiographical and has so many good pieces in it. I especially liked Five Columns, Mark, Home, and Cheerfulness.
On the publisher’s website, you can read the introduction, listen to a 19+ minute monologue for “Chickens,” and also read two other excerpts from the book.
I definitely recommend this book for purchase, even if you haven’t ever heard of Garrison Keillor!
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