Saturday, September 13, 2008

Garrison Keillor – Faber - $27.99

This is the funniest book I have read in a long long while. It made me laugh out loud on almost every page and I just about drove Annie mad by insisting on reading passages aloud to her when she was trying to read her own book. I think the first chapter is the funniest thing I have read in many years.
For example here is the first sentence:
“Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that”
Evelyn, 82 years of age, was an upstanding Lutheran, a fine quilter and the book begins with her death after a cheerful night out on the town with two of her women friends. Her daughter is stunned to find Evelyn wants to be cremated, have her ashes placed inside a bowling ball and dropped into Lake Wobegone. She also discovers her mother had a secret lover! Vintage Keillor.

Faber have always been the British publishers of Keillor and I recall way back in the 80’s when I was at Penguin Books NZ, we represented Faber & Faber then, and an advance copy of one of his very early titles arrived. I read and greatly enjoyed it, it was about Lake Wobegone, but trying to get local booksellers to stock it proved nigh impossible. No one had ever heard of him, it was American fiction etc etc and it was not until some years later that Radio New Zealand bought Keillor’s long running and hugely successful radio programme, A Prairie Home Companion, that all that changed and now whenever a new title comes out, I think there have been about ten, selling it into the trade is not a problem.

This latest one is again set in the fictional town of Lake Wobegone, population 900, and it is the first since 2001 so we have been a long time waiting, his fans, count me among them, are delighted. I think this new title is as good as anything he has done.

This is not literature, you will not find it featured on Mark Sarvas’ litblog, The Elegant Variation, nor will you find it reviewed in The London Review of Books. No, this is pure entertainment, and I enjoyed it immensely

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