Lake Wobegon is in a frenzy of preparations for the Fourth of July. This being Wobegon, lives collide and relationships develop in the oddest ways. Take Clint Bunson, the treasurer of the Lutheran church and the auto mechanic who starts cars on below-zero mornings. For six years, he has run the Fourth of July parade, turning what was once a line of pickup trucks into an event of dazzling spectacle.
The town is dizzy with anticipation - until they hear of Clint's ambition to run for Congress. They know about his episodes with vodka sours, his rocky marriage, and his friendship with the 24-year-old who dresses up as the Statue of Liberty for the parade and may be buck naked beneath her robes.
In Keillor's words, "It is Lake Wobegon as you imagined it - good loving people who drive each other crazy."
©2008 Garrison Keillor; (P)2008 HighBridge Company
"Keillor's Lake Wobegon books have become a set of synoptic gospels, full of wistfulness and futility yet somehow spangled with hope." (New York Times Book Review)
I have been a great fan of Garrison Keillor for over 20 years. Listening to Prairie Home Companion on relay to Australia has been part of our family Sunday evening tradition all that time. Some of the episodes in this tale were familiar from the "News From Lake Wobegone", but it was really great to have them connected in a continuous narrative. Garrison Keillor reads his tale really well. But I think that a huge part of the success of "News From Lake Wobegone" is the brilliant rapport between Garrison and his audience. The absense of this spark is the difference between four and five stars in my opinion.
I do wonder if listeners unfamilar with the folk of Lake Wobegone might miss some of the background knowledge that gives an instant picture of pesonalities when a name is first mentioned.
The quality of the reading and recording are first rate. If you are familiar with Lake Wobegone I think that you would really enjoy this audiobook, especially on a long drive to the Back of Beyond.
If you're not a PHC fan, no promises. However, if you love the News from Lake Wobegon, you'll eat this up.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Clint Bunsen's midlife crisis arrives a little later than usual, the day he turns 60. His prized position as committee chair of Lake Wobegon's over-the-top Fourth of July celebration is taken away despite being so successful that it's being covered for the second straight year by CNN. His car business is withering on the vine. He has to decide whether to accept an offer to run for Congress. He may have a health issue. He has just discovered via a DNA test that he is of Spanish ancestry rather Norwegian like the other Wobegonians.
But more than anything else, his life is upended by a brief but torrid affair with the young woman who filled in last year as the Statue of Liberty in the Fourth of July parade. So much so that he regrets his long-ago decision to come home after leaving the navy and marry his high school sweetheart rather than staying in California and going to art school, and he is now considering the possibility of leaving his wife and Lake Wobegon to go to California with his new flame (a little too obviously named Angelica Pflame).
Clint Bunsen is a mainstay of Garrison Keillor's weekly NPR radio show segment, The News From Lake Wobegon. In Liberty, he gets his own novel, in which various shades of the concept of "liberty" are at the heart of his various personal crises. As usual, Clint's story is really just a fulcrum for another look at life in Lake Wobegon, filtered through the lens of its renowned multimedia chronicler, Keillor. If you're a fan of the radio show and think you would enjoy a novel-length installment about Wobegon, Liberty will work for you, especially since Keillor narrates his own book in his inimitable style.
Me, I really loved the first half of the book, when the focus was on the political machinations of the Fourth of July committee as they recap the previous Fourth and plan the next. I felt that the story lost steam when it shifted its attention to Clint's affair. I would argue that my flagging interest level was inevitable by definition once the story shifted focus because it became more about Clint than about Lake Wobegon -- fans of Lake Wobegon are fans of Keillor's satire of small-town life more than its individual inhabitants, except insofar as they interact with each other as part of the social fabric.
Nevertheless, Liberty was an enjoyable listen, wry if not laugh out loud funny, cleverly built around the concept of liberty, with the Fourth of July as an apt and grandiose metaphor as well as framing device, and, to reiterate, benefiting in the best possible way by being narrated by its golden-voiced author.
Garrison and his style and message and the words he uses. It's a masterpiece.
His intonation. He is marvelous! If you do not love Mr. Keillor you are missing something.
Yes, it made me love life, truth and creativity.
Please write more books Mr. Keillor Sir.
I used to enjoy Garrison Keillor Lake stories. Dry, slow but funny. Now, just slow and dry and very little humor.
Garrison Keillor is a great storyteller, but this skill doesn't a novel make. I thought because this novel took place in Lake Wobegon it would be as entertaining as his short stories, but this concept turned out to be simply not the case.
After awhile, Garrison's narration sounds whiny and I didn't want to hear him drone on.
I couldn't finish the book.
I was into this story pretty well for a couple of chapters, but eventually faded out. This is my third attempt at reading Keillor's fiction, with identical reactions. It's as though his self -imposed "family-appropriate" style with essays is utterly forsaken in his fiction, and the resutlt is that the otherwise delightful story is sacrificed for the freedom of being just a little bit "naughty" with his language and characters. I can handle rough language, sex and the meandering throughts of senility-bound men as well as most readers,, but if I'm to sacrifice this much time to a novel, I feel there must be a reasonable point or artfulness to the content. It strikes me that Keillor has not yet managed to devise a reliable style of writing fiction where he can inhabit both the worlds of great story-telling and edgy content. When he does, I will be an eager reader.
There is no one better to read Garrison Keillor than Garrison Keillor. This is a great book for a road trip or for stay at home entertainment. I've been a fan of A Prairie Home Companion for decades and listening to an extended adult tale about my favorite Minnesota town was a delight. This is a story I will certainly revisit.
I have been a fan of Keillor for some time. Anyone who has a chance to see his radio show in person, should do so. I have enjoyed his books and have met him once to my delight. This is not one of his better books, but it is very entertaining nonetheless. The characters are familiar to readers who know him and his insights into human thought and behavior are stimulating as always. Anyone who has not heard of or read after Keillor would, perhaps, better start with another of his volumes. Also, if you are listening to this book in the car with others or around children, there are some mildly graphic segments which you may want to avoid. Otherwise, Keillor fans enjoy. The book is a grood driving across the country listen and, of course, Mr. Keillor's reading is wonderful.
The story itself ended up being a bit boring, but I always enjoy Keillor's voice, so that much was enjoyable.
"Every bit as good as Lake Wobegon"
To begin with I didn't find this quite as easy to get into as Keillor's 'Lake Wobegon' but, once I did, it was excellent. As with Lakewobegon,the story is about a town populated by likeable eccentrics and yet the characters and the story itself are entirely plausible.There's a tremondous warmth to this book and I would strongly recommend it.
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