Springingtiger's Blog


Garrison Keillor and My Brother.

The bath is a good place to read Garrison Keillor, I am reading “Leaving Home”. The short stories obviate the need for bookmarks which inevitably slip from between the pages and get soaked. It was my brother who introduced me to Garrison Keillor or, more accurately to his writings. One birthday he sent me “We Are Still Married” why this rather than the more famous “Lake Wobegon Days” I do not know, perhaps he had a spare copy, but whatever the reason it counts as one of those gifts of lasting presence and usefulness ‒ he also sent me Julian Barnes’ “Flaubert’s Parrot” which I have not yet got around to reading, but I will ‒ particularly as I have decided to improve my writing by studying the art of the Short Story. I still have not laid my hands on “Lake Wobegon Days”, I do intend to. Recently I bought the DVD of “A Prairie Home Companion” and what a delight that proved, particularly to one who loves the golden age of Country Music, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe and all that lot.

I am reading short stories by other writers like Alexander McCall Smith, but they tend to be more narrative, complete stories. I like Garrison Keillor because although there is narrative it is secondary to observation. Garrison Keillor is one of of a select tradition of American observers that includes James Thurber and Alasdair Cook. His pieces are like good chocolate, to be consumed slowly and savoured, whereas some other writers like cheap chocolate can be wolfed down story after story with little lasting satisfaction, I frequently finish a novel wondering why I started it. As a rule I prefer non fiction because it disappoints less often, particularly galling is to discover a writer one enjoys only for the magic to fade as with each successive novel they become stale and predictable. Thriller writers are particularly prone to churning out slabs of formula, so much so that some no longer bother to write their own books.

I don’t know why Jeremy sent me “We Are Still Married” perhaps it is a sign of good taste, we are more alike than either of us cares to admit. We share many of the same strengths and weaknesses, although it must be said that what may be a strength and an endearing trait in oneself is frequently irritating in a younger sibling. However annoying he may have occasionally been as a child, he did introduce me to Garrison Keillor, and for that he is the subject of this “gratitude blog”.

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