The Subtle Sadness of Garrison Keillor

Pilgrims cover

A town named after the Indian words for “Place Where We Waited For You, All Day, In The Rain.”

I’ve had some difficult personal stuff going on in the last few months, and when that happens I often like to settle down and listen to audiobooks by a single author for a tremendously long time.  This time out I picked Garrison Keillor, and listened to News from Lake Wobegon. More News From Lake Wobegon, and Lake Wobegon U.S.A.

For those of you not familiar with Keillor’s work: imagine a radio show that’s been going for 39 years. Each week the host gives you ten minutes of news from a town that’s slightly sentimental, slyly funny, and a little melancholy: “a town where all the women are strong, all the men are handsome, and all the children are above average.” Collect those hundreds of hours of radio broadcast together, fill in with some novels, and that’s Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.

I also discovered that there’s a feed for the News From Lake Wobegon, and various podcasting options. I downloaded everything from it, so that’s all of the stories from mid 2010 onward. I listened to perhaps 50 hours of the minor adventures of the people of the town, and I’m amazed that this makes up perhaps 8% of the radio shows alone. Add in the novels and it barely scratches the surface of what’s happened in the town that’s been slowly unfolding in Garrison Keillor’s head since he was a boy.

To tie my post into the 28 Days of Horror theme, here are a couple of recordings by Keillor. The first one is just a link to the Hallowe’en episode of his show, and has a short ghost story from Lake Wobegon. In the Youtube clip that follows, he’s parodying himself, but he mentions werewolves and zombies, so I can scrape the show over the thematic barrier.

The Library Service has a patchy sort of collection of Keillor’s material. I think Lake Wobegon Days is an excellent place to start, though.