My own definition of what counts as a “novel” fluctuates. You might say I fudge. If it is a classic, like Homer’s stuff, it’s not fiction. If it is theological, it’s theology. Otherwise, I don’t read novels. Unless it’s the hilarious humor of Garrison Keillor. I’ve read all of his books I think, so when I saw Pontoon, I forked over the money and sat down recently and read the thing.
Let’s hear from his fans and readers. Which of his books do you like most? Any critical response to his work, especially as it has developed since the early 80s.
What do I like most about his books? It’s his ability to start with some odd fact and by the end of the long paragraph, sometimes a page later, we’ve gotten to where one would never expect. It’s like a parenthesis within a parenthesis within a few more and before long you’re laughing and cackling and wondering how in the world he does it.
Pontoon combines the funeral of Evelyn Peterson — cremation with the ashes put in a bowling ball and then dropped from the sky (sort of) into Lake Wobegon by a young kid flying on a parasail but the driver gets all mixed up with some huge ducks on the lake and a pontoon full of Danish pastors who have become all but atheists — with a wedding, actually a commitment, that falls apart and now you’ve got the making of all his nonsense.
What do I not like about Keillor? About the time he wrote WLT: A Radio Romance Keillor included too much sex (he doesn’t seem to have any Scandinavian reserve in this subject) and he’s not let up since. This book has a few episodes that lacked taste.
More seriously, in the last few books he’s started juxtaposing sex and the Christian faith in ways that, at times, strike me as cheap and classless. Those scenes sadden me because there are better ways to expose the failure of the Christian faith.
His capacity to spin a yarn, expose the weaknesses of humans, entertain, and carry us all forward a step or two … and his ability to write and his voice … well, I’ll be in line the next time another Wobegon novel comes out.
Here’s the Amazon link to Keillor … my favorite remains Lake Wobegon Days, but I’ve read them all.