I have a feeling Garrison Keillor might be on of those 'love him' or 'loath him' writers for many people.
Mostly I have loved him since first discovering Lake Wobegon back in 1988. There was plenty to catch up on back then and I kept up to speed too, but then I read one I didn't like and Garrison headed off into the wilderness for me.
He's back on song with me though, after my recent read of Pontoon, and I have done a lot of that old wry smiling with a bit of falling about laughing at good old Garrison Keillor.
It's classic Keillor territory. Everyone from Lake Wobegon who may have escaped is drawn back eventually and that includes Barbara, Evelyn Peterson's daughter who has returned home to Minnesota after a lifetime of failed relationships and a close encounter with alcohol of all descriptions and in time to deal with the death of her mother.
Who'd have thought Evelyn had quite such a secret life?
'To look at Evelyn, most people'd never guess she had a Raoul in her life. She was a quilter. Summer, fall, winter, and spring, she and the six others in the Ladies Circle gathered in the Fellowship Room, cranking out quilts until she finally turned in her needles: she was 78 and her fingers hurt and besides, there was a quilt glut in town.'
Having stipulated that her ashes are to be sealed in a bowling ball and dropped into Lake Wobegon there is little doubt as the story progresses, everything is set up for a gloriously farcical Keillor final showdown.
My thanks to Faber (and Faber) for four prize draw copies of Pontoon.
I seem to recall that in 1988, when I first stumbled across Lake Wobegon, I was emerging from that three babies in four years mayhem and a good laugh was always welcome, so names in comments if you feel in need of a good laugh to get 2010 started too.