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Garrison Keillor at UAlbany
Garrison Keillor

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Memoirist

NYS Writers Institute, September 9, 2003
8:00 p.m. Reading & Signing, RACC, Uptown Campus

"He's Will Rogers with grammar lessons, Aesop with no ax to grind, the common man's Moliere." - Houston Chronicle

 

PROFILE
Garrison Keillor
, best-known for his acclaimed Public Radio programs, "A Prairie Home Companion" and "The Writer's Almanac," is also the author of several bestselling novels and short story collections. Sales of Keillor's books have totaled more than 5 million copies in the U.S. alone.

"A storytelling genius." - The Washington Post

"The funniest American writer still open for business." - Time Magazine

 

Keillor's latest novel is Love Me (Viking, 2003, ISBN 0-670-03246-8), the story of Larry Wyler, a starstruck Minnesotan with literary aspirations who abandons his young wife in St. Paul in order to try his luck among New York's rich and famous writers. He meets with success, both as a staff writer for The New Yorker and as a ladies man, but his success quickly comes to an end. In trouble with his wife, and out of favor at The New Yorker, Wyler returns to Minnesota to eke out a living as "Mr. Blue," an advice columnist for lovesick readers.

In writing the novel, Keillor drew upon his experience as an advice-and-humor columnist for the online magazine, Salon, also written under the pen-name "Mr. Blue."

Keillor's radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," is heard by millions of listeners on 400 stations across the country. A family-oriented, live-broadcast program that features comedy, radioplays and an eclectic assortment of musical performances, "A Prairie Home Companion" resembles the sort of variety shows that held listeners in thrall during the Golden Age of American radio in the 1920s and '30s. The show is always fashioned around reports from Keillor's fictional hometown, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above-average."

"A Prairie Home Companion" first aired on Minnesota Public Radio in 1974, became nationally syndicated in 1980, and had 4 million listeners by 1987, when Keillor took a three-year break to pursue fiction full-time. The show resumed in 1990 as "The American Radio Company" and reverted to its former name in 1993.

The fictional town of Lake Wobegon also provides the setting for much of Keillor's fiction, including Lake Wobegon: Summer 1956 (2001), Wobegon Boy (1998), Leaving Home (1987) and Lake Wobegon Days (1985).

Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956 is the story of an awkward 14-year-old Minnesotan who discovers the pleasures and pains of both love and writing.

"What makes Keillor a special writer is his capacity to examine the ordinary doings of life and somehow extract little stories that say more about human nature than an institute full of psychiatrists." - Philadelphia Inquirer

Wobegon Boy, which spent eight weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, is the story of a Minnesotan living in Upstate New York, the ne'er-do-well manager of a Public Radio station based at a "mouldering Episcopalian College."

"As sharp and funny a comic novel as any I've read in the '90s." - Chicago Sun Times

"A masterful portrait of the sort of small town that many of us Americans believe we grew up in, or would have liked to. A wonderfully readable tale." - The Washington Post Book World

Keillor's other writings include the political satire of Jesse Ventura's governorship, Me: By Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente, Governor of Minnesota (1999); the children's books The Sandy Bottom Orchestra (1997, co-written with Jenny Lind Nilsson), The Old Man Who Loved Cheese (1996), and Cat, You Better Come Home (1995); the short story collections The Book of Guys (1993) and We Are Still Married (1989); and the novel, WLT: A Radio Romance (1991). He has contributed regularly to such publications as Time, The Atlantic and The New Yorker.

Keillor also hosts the daily five-minute-long program, "The Writer's Almanac," which features eclectic samplings of English-language poetry as well as interesting tidbits of literary history. The show favors accessible, readable poems that lend themselves well to oral presentation. Its familiar tagline is "Be well, do good work and keep in touch." In 2002, Keillor edited Good Poems, a collection of some of his favorite poems from the show.


Love Me by Garrison Keillorfrom Love Me:

Dear Mr. Blue,
I've always wanted to be a writer but when I try, I sit and gaze out the window and don't get any good ideas and after a while I go and read a good book. What's wrong?
- Dazed

My dear Dazed, You and me, too. We need motivation to write, just as we would if we were driving to North Dakota in January. The prestige of being there is not enough. You might go there to earn big money or escape from the FBI or to find hot sex with a librarian in Valley City but the thrill of writing a letter with a North Dakota postmark would not be strong enough motivation. Not for me. Unless I were writing a letter about that librarian


Other Books by Garrrsion Keillor:

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Additional Links:
Sunday Gazette Article
The Writer's Almanac
Prairie Home Companion

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.