Has there been a film version?
Who are the main characters?
Francis With/Frank White – a young boy who loves everything about radio
Ray Soderbjerg – part owner of WLT radio station and womanizer
Roy Soderbjerg – Ray’s brother and also part owner, he is an inventor who never finishes anything
Roy Soderbjerg Jr. – Roy’s son, helps run the station
Patsy Konopka – a writer at WLT who is secretly in love with Frank
Lottie Soderbjerg/Lily Dale – a cripple who sings on the radio, also Ray and Roy’s sister
Dad Benson – star of the “Friendly Neighbor” radio show on WLT
Marjerie Moore – child star who plays Becky on “Friendly Neighbor,” but in reality is 14 years old, chain smoker, druggie, and slut
What’s it about?
This is the story of the Sodjerberg family and their radio station, WLT. The station is first started in attempt to save the family diner, but eventually grows into something much more prosperous and entertaining. With everything from announcers who go on air in their underwear to a room just for Ray’s latest paramours, the station never has a dull moment. Francis With, his father recently deceased, changes his name to Frank White and comes to WLT looking for a job. As things spiral more and more out of Ray and Roy’s control they struggle more and more to make this dying thing known as radio profitable.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
I’m pretty sure b/c it’s written by Keillor. And because it details a part of Americana which is gone – the live radio shows like “The Shadow” and other family oriented programs.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Hmmm, it’s good but I liked other Keillor books better.
How did this book make your list?
I like GK’s books. I just like GK.
Has it won any awards?
“‘Oh, it was never meant to be!’ Frieda cried. ‘We were never meant to be anything other than what we are.’ The other folks arrived at the same conclusion. Better to be happy with what you have than to aim high and become vain and miserable. The highest branch is not the safest roost.” – p 94
“If only radio had come first, it would have kept poetry and drama and stories in the happy old oral tradition and poets would simply be genial hosts who chant odes and lays instead of a bunch of nervous jerks like T.S. Eliot. Radio could have saved literature, but instead, literature had imprisoned radio in literature’s own disease, like an editor who asks the writer to take out all the funny parts.” – p 146
This book was crazy. All of the characters were crazy in some sort of way – whether it was Dad Benson sleeping with his fictional daughter or Lottie really believing she was Lily Dale. But I enjoyed how Keillor intertwined the lives of his characters as they played out both in reality and their radio characters’ lives. There was a sense of impending doom throughout the entire story because of the beginning and the subtle emphasis on death. But no matter what happened, you always knew everything would end up resolved, whether it was Ray’s whirlwind relationships or Patsy’s storytelling. There was love interwoven through every page, line, and word.