Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Garrison Keillor Will Tell Tales in Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Garrison Keillor Will Tell Tales in Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Marino, Times-Union staff writer

Garrison Keillor once described himself as "less well-read than the average bus driver" -- a surprising statement from the man who delivers the Writer's Almanac program on National Public Radio.

"I just have felt crowded by books and by voices of writers, and I have just found it easier to leave them out for a while," Keillor said in a phone interview.

"I am a very intolerant reader. I sit with a stack of books, and I read a few lines and I pitch them over the side. I stick with a novel for about 2 1/2 pages, and if something isn't happening, then I take off."

Nevertheless, as both a writer and a radio host, Keillor has built a long career on a unique strain of literate entertainment.

Today, his highest-profile job is hosting A Prairie Home Companion, the variety show that will come to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts this weekend.

A Prairie Home Companion typifies the Keillor approach. It's full of well-spun stories with good-natured characters and a dash of self-deprecation. The show reaches millions of listeners per week, and is broadcast locally by WJCT (89.9 FM).

With only a short hiatus in the middle of its run, A Prairie Home Companion has been a radio institution since 1974. A typical program features music, skits and stories from Lake Wobegon, a fictional Minnesota town full of wistful memories and benevolent comedy.

The tone of PHC is consistent with such Keillor fiction as Zeus the Lutheran, which was recently anthologized by The New Yorker.

Keillor has a long history of writing for that magazine, and many others. He recently ended a run as the advice columnist for the online magazine Salon.

"I gave all the advice that I had to give," Keillor said. "And the questions were starting to repeat. There are only so many problems in the world. …

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