Garrison Keillor: A Critical Companion

By Marcia Songer | Go to book overview

5

Leaving Home(1987)

Leaving Home, Garrison Keillor’s third book, consists of an introduction, thirty-five stories, and a short final chapter in which Keillor bids goodbye to his fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Although Lake Wobegon Days, his previous book, reworks material used on radio broadcasts of A Prairie Home Companion, Leaving Home differs in that it is made up of transcriptions of specific monologues. Three of them—“A Trip to Grand Rapids,” “The Killer,” and “Chicken”—appeared in the Atlantic, but they were all meant to be spoken. Keillor says, “They were written for my voice, which is flat and slow. There are long pauses in them and sentences that trail off into the raspberry bushes” (xvi).

At the time Leaving Home was published, Keillor had just ended thirteen years of A Prairie Home Companion in order to live in Denmark with his new wife, a native of that country. After a short stay he returned to the United States, and eventually he returned to broadcasting. However, in 1987 he had every reason to believe that his career in the United States was at an end.

In “Introduction: A Letter from Copenhagen,” Keillor says nothing is better than fresh sweet corn, and he would perhaps still be in Minnesota if he had eaten more of it. But he “lost touch with people who raised corn” (xv). He was bothered by changes in Minnesota, such as the growth of soulless megamalls where once small farms and produce stands had flourished. St. Paul, like Lake Wobegon, had seemed to him

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