Has there been a film version?
Not exactly. There is a film about the Prairie Home Companion radio show, but it is not specifically about Lake Wobegon nor does it cover any of these short stories.
Who are the important characters?
Too many to list – but the people of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
What’s it about?
This is a collection of short stories centered around the people of Lake Wobegon, a fictional small Minnesotan town. Garrison covers a year of life in Lake Wobegon, with major events and minor events both written about. The lives of his people are rich and simple – frustrating and complicated. They have charm and personality enough to serve far more storytelling than has been produced by them in the nearly 35 years of “A Prairie Home Companion’s” the News from Lake Wobegon.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
I’d say because of the author’s unquestionable ability to tell stories.
Do you recommend I read this book?
I think so. Although I am a hugenormous Garrison Keillor fan, this is the first of his novels I have read – and not even a novel, but a collection of short stories. I loved it, but I don’t think it’s a proper representation of what he is like as a novel writer but more accurately a representation of him as a storyteller.
Why did this book make your list?
I found it on my bookshelf. I’m not sure where it came from. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
Has it won any awards?
I don’t think so.
I could possibly quote this entire book to you – that’s how much I love Garrison Keillor, but instead…
“I went up in the ferris wheel for a last ride before being thrown into seventh grade. It went up into the stars and fell back to earth and rose again, and I had a magnificent vision, or think I did, though it’s hard to remember if it was that year with the chocolate cake or the next one with the pigs getting loose. The ferris wheel is the same year after year. it’s like all one ride to me: we go up and I think of people I knew who are dead and I smell fall in the air, manure, corn dogs, and we drop down into blazing light and blaring music. Every summer I’m a little bigger, but riding the ferris wheel, I feel the same as ever, I feel eternal. The combination of cotton candy, corn dogs, diesel smoke, and sawdust, in a hot dark summer night, it never changes, not an inch. The wheel carries us up high, high, high, and stops, and we sit swaying, creaking, in the dark, on the verge of death. You can see death from here. The wind blows from the northwest, from the farm school in Saint Anthony Park, a chilly wind with traces of pigs and sheep in it. This is my vision: little kids holding on to their daddy’s hand, and he is me. He looks down on them with love and buys them another corn dog. They are worried they will lose him, they hang on to his leg with one hand, eat with the other. This vision is unbearably wonderful. Then the wheel brings me down to the ground. We get off and other people get on. Thank you, dear God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.” – p 124
I wish I had a recording of Garrison Keillor reading these aloud…that’s all.
Garrison Keillor is my favorite storyteller. He has an amazing gift of calming and soothing and forcing you to think and remember and contemplate and enjoy – all in the half stupor of contentment. Most of these stories don’t even have a tangible point. There’s no moral. There’s no lesson to be learned or underlying archetypal subplot defining a genre and exploding with controversy. They’re just stories about a small town in Minnesota and the people’s lives who live there. And part of that is the essence of what makes them so wonderful. The illustrations and allusions and quirky personality makes up 49% of it’s greatness – and their simplicity makes up another 49%. And the last two percent, is just pure Garrison Keillor magic.