Monday, January 12, 2009


Garrison Keillor is one of my favorite storytellers. I've been a huge fan for years and years. As author and host of “A Prairie Home Companion,” his national live broadcasts gave me a taste of the old-style radio variety show my grandma used to talk about. Listening to Keillor, I understand now why people, once upon a time before television, gathered around their radios to be entertained.

When I couldn't get enough of him on NPR, I bought the recordings of his stories. I needed more frequent installments of his 'News From Lake Wobegon' than he was providing. His stories of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota were full of small incident, ever about family—the Bunsens, the Tolleruds and the Tollefsons—and always moderated with passion. I followed their sagas faithfully. My favorite stories were 'Tomato Butt', 'Ronnie and the Winnebago', and 'Thanksgiving'.

Garrison Keillor is also an author and, although I've tried to read his books, something gets lost in the translation from audio to print. It's a rare book I prefer to hear on tape or CD, but Mr. Keillor's books fit this bill. His stories need his distinctive voice. He brings life to old places and makes them lovely to pass through.

One more spring in Minnesota,
To come upon Lake Wobegon.
Old town, I smell the coffee,
If I could see you one more time.

That long, long time is always on my mind,
I'm just a stranger with memories of days of long ago.
Could it have been forty years since then?
What happened to us? I'd like to know.

That yard, that tree—you climbed it once with me;
We talked of cities we'd live in someday.
I left, old friend, and now I'm back again.
Please say you missed me since I went away.

One more time, this dance together,
Just you and I, now don't be shy.
This time, I know I'll hear the music,
If you would hold me one more time.

--Garrison Keillor


willow said...

I love his selections of "Good Poems" and have both volumes. He is the best.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

He is the best!! Even with the penquin joke!

Peggy said...

Oh, Willow, I forgot to mention his poems, which are great. Thanks for making note of them here.

PT and Edward, I'm still not sure if laugh harder at the joke or the dead-silence-except-for-crickets after it's delivered! Thanks so much for stopping in!

Sherri said...

Lovely post, Peggy. 20 years or so ago, I gave my husband one of those replica radios which played casette tapes and I bought a collection of the old time radio shows and a few years later, a couple of Garrison Keillor's audio books.

We are both of an age that we remember our families sitting around the radio listening to shows in the early 1950s. And a few years later sitting in front of a "test pattern" on a tiny TV screen waiting for the daily programming to start. All 2 to 3 hours of it. :)

Joanne said...

They say a writer must develop their "voice" in their work. Interesting how Keillor's stories need his distinctive voice, as though it is a part of his writer's "voice."

Barry said...

I haven't read Keillor (or listened to him), which I see was my loss.

My wife and I lived, and had our two babies, in the small (pop 1200) town of Powassan, through the 1970's.

We have only been back to visit a couple of times. But now some friends has posted over 300 pictures of the town on Facebook and my wife and I spent the weekend looking at them with the same feelings as Keillor's poem have just evoked in me.

Raymonty said...

Living here in the North East(New Jersey & New York) with the cold snowy weather I have a lot of time to read because I am retired. I enjoyed reading your post and thank you for sharing with us here in cyberspace your thoughts. I enjoyed listening to Sam Shepherd on the radio many years a go. . . . . I miss the good old days!

sizzie said...

I can hear him speak, even as I read the lines. Just hearing a story of his slows the world down, his pacing is what I notice. It is funny, I have noticed I cannot read his words fast! It is like hearing a familar song sung to the wrong tempo. Thanks for posting.

Dave King said...

Fascinating post. I must look him up. Thanks.

larkspur said...

Love APHC, but especially look forward to his Writer's Almanac early every morning.
"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch"
-Garrison Keillor

Peggy said...

Sherri, what wonderful memories! Thanks so much for sharing.

Joanne, that's a wonderful point and it's certainly true. Garrison has his own "voice" and his own voice, doesn't he?

Barry, give his recordings a try. I bet you'll love them. They'll transport you back to your small town. :-)

Peggy said...

Raymonty, thanks so much for stopping in! I hope you enjoyed your visit. Come again!

Sizzie, what a great observation. That's exactly what it's like for me, too.

Dave, I hope you'll check Keillor out. Let me know what your experience was!

Larkspur, oh, yes! Writer's Almanac is terrific. Thanks for mentioning it here!

Lindsey said...

And don't forget "Songs of the Cat"!

As I walked out on the street with my radio, as I walked out with my radio one day,
I saw a poor kitty-cat wrapped in white linen, it had been white linen but now it was grey.

There are so many comments on your blog now, mine may become lost! Thank you for the "lovely thought" picture, and how do you get those book cover images on your reading list??

Peggy said...

We just listened to "Songs of the Cat" selections the other day, Lindsey. I was introducing Corban to all things GK! He loved them as much as we do. :-)

kenny8blog said...

Garrison K is a pleasure to read,
but, his own unique laconic
voice is one delight to listen
I read a review of a recent novel
of his and was surprised to
find the reviewer found it rather
Perhaps reviewer was a Woebegone

Peggy said...

Kenny, I'm not sure Garrison K is an acquired taste. Doesn't it seem that he either resonates with someone or not? Silly reviewer! :-)