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Lake Wobegon Days

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  5,149 ratings  ·  366 reviews
Portions of this book appeared originally in The Atlantic Monthly.
502 pages
Published (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Ah, I miss the old days, those innocent Goodreads days of pretzels and beer, Wittgenstein and Gertrude Stein, and of course, Celebrity Death Matches. So I'm reviving one of my personal favourites. I call it...

CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH No 83.

BOY GEORGE : Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs, Ladies and Gentlemen! Guten abend, bon soir, good evening! Wie geht's? Comment ca va? Do you feel good? Ich bin euer confrencier, je suis votre compere, I am your host! Lea
...more
erin
Jan 31, 2007 erin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nostalgists, cynics, introverts
I'm amazed that Garrison Keillor is seen as the written equivalent of Norman Rockwell; His stories are only nostalgic if you aren't paying attention. The Lake Wobegone of his childhood is a dark, oppressive place, where the laughs are generally at someone's expense and everlasting embarrassment. For those of us who identify, the grim humour and beautifully rendered stories evoke not nostalgia, but a satisfaction that those years are long past.
Amber
Picture me sitting on a train reading this book, getting to the passage where the boys are in the classroom at lunchtime and the headteacher farts nearby and acts as if nothing happened. Gary makes his friend fall to pieces with laughter because the teacher demands to know what is so funny, and Gary says something like "it smells like a badger fart". The effect on his friend - I think he says something like: ”I’ve never had such an impressive(explosive? Can’t remember the line properly) effect o ...more
Elaine
Jul 22, 2008 Elaine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, but especially those who survived the 1940s and 50s.
As a child of the 60s, I have gotten used to books having to be dark and meaningful. Happy endings are rare and suspect. So it is with pleasure that I discovered Garrison Keillor's books. He makes me smile, sometimes nostalgically, but sometimes just out of clear enjoyment of someone saying what I've always felt but never knew how to put into words. I encourage readers to give this book a chance. How anyone can read about Lake Wobegon's citizenry and not love this book is beyond me. A church nam ...more
Adam Oster
I really wanted to love this book. Me and Garrison Keillor have spent a great deal of time together on the road, as I would listen to him ramble on about his times spent on the shores of Lake Wobegon during the fantastic radio show that is Prarie Home Companion.
Of course, I had a feeling that a book dedicated to these long winded tales of days never-existing would find themselves to be too long for their own good, but I had really hoped things would be different.
I spent several nights trying to
...more
Margitte
I loved it. Although it made me smile a lot, sometimes laughing out loud, it also had a almost neurotic undertone, but it never gets the better of the reader. The community of Lake Wobegone is described in so much detail, it is amazing. I skipped most of the footnotes in the end, since it became annoying to remember where I was in the book after having to read yet another footnote that was a chapter in itself. The characters are so all-American, yet it could have been our own neighborhood in Sou ...more
Michael Foley
What is Lake Wobegon? Is it a place? Is it a state of mind? Is it nothing more than a nostalgic longing for times gone by? In his first Lake Wobegon novel, Garrison Keillor introduces us to his semi-autobiographical world of memory. He leaps between the present and past as he breathes life into his fictional Midwestern world. His characters are unique and interesting not because they are bigger than life, but because they could be your neighbor, your best friend, or even yourself. Lake Wobegon’s ...more
Eric Sundquist
Dear Garrison Keillor,

I read your book and liked it a lot. It took me a while to get through it, though. First I started reading it a couple of years ago, but I got so confused in the first few pages' footnotes about how many meters apart everything in town was that I thought it was going to be a boring book and quit. I started reading it again around August, and when I realized that you were just being cheeky, I quickly picked up on the style and began my enjoyment. I try not to be an obnoxious
...more
Liz
Apr 08, 2008 Liz rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone desperate to read the last book they've got, but only if they're desperate
(4/8/08): Toilsome. That's a good word to describe this book, if it even is a word. (It ought to be, if it's not.) Four hundred plus pages and not much to it.

Yes, I understand there's not really a plot to it. In fact, I'd bet there's a particular term to describe the type of writing Mr. Keillor endeavors. I don't know it and I just don't care for it. Yeah, there are some interesting parts about how town life affects so many of its residents (one of the problems - too many characters to really k
...more
Leslie
Jul 27, 2007 Leslie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoyed A Prairie Home Companion
Garrison Keillor is a rambling kind of person/writer who just keeps spewing details and weaving threads in a fabric of Lake Wobegon. His somewhat satirical take on a small town, his own hometown - possibly, I still can't figure out if this is a work of fiction or not, and frankly I don't mind - reminds me of stephen leacock's sunshine sketches of a small town, nostalgia and humour, pride in one's hometown, made up or real. A book to be savoured, read in the right place.

"“Humankind knows no finer
...more
Joshua Guest
I laughed out loud. And as much as I enjoy laughing, I don't like to give many people the satisfaction of knowing that they got a laugh out of me. But Garrison Keillor earned every drawn chortle. My two favorite qualities of this book: (1) There's no plot or any really important character, so you can just open up to any page and start reading as if you're just listening to a senile old man reminisce. This quality also allowed for me to skim some boring parts guiltlessly. (2) The footnotes are so ...more
April
If you like Garrison Keillor's radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, then you'll like this. It's essentially the same thing, but in writing —a lot of meandering vignettes with very good descriptions of small town characters and small town life, much of it universal, quirky, humorous, and sad, a very nostalgic feeling sprinkled throughout.

There isn't any huge plot driving the book or overarching theme or message. It really does just meander. So if you're looking for a book you can't put down, som
...more
Donna
This is sweet, funny, unbelievably poignant, from the man who began his career (I believe, at least to the extent of being well-known) on public radio, then branched out.

Because this is so purely American, and much of it set in the post-war years,I never tried to share it with my husband, because he was not born in the US and didn't move here or start learning English till the 70s, so I thought the retro nuances would be lost on him. However, when he heard a brief excerpt that Keillor recited on
...more
Liz
At 337 pages of continuous droning, this book was extremely difficult to get through. Although Keillor did really well articulating small town Protestant life in the Midwest, he made the book WAY too long to hold my interest. The novel seemed like a disjointed work of short stories or essays instead of a believable whole. At times I wasn't sure who was the narrator or where the story/ies was/were going. Despite these setbacks, I found myself laughing at the second half of the book a lot more tha ...more
Jacki
I'm going to have to take a break on this. I'm only on page 148 & I'm totally bored with it. It's taken me 2 days to read that much. That's really unlike me. So. I'm going to start another book & read this one little-by-little I guess.

Alright. Well. I finished it. Finally. This book really did nothing for me. I pretty much had to force my way though it. I admit, there were funny parts, but getting to them was pretty painful. I kept reading because it came to me so highly recommended by
...more
Kaitlin
Putting this one on the "I don't get it" shelf. I've never read Keillor before, started here, and likely will not try again. It seems like the people who enjoy his writing are those who grew to love him on the radio, and I've never heard him speak.

This isn't a novel, so much as a bunch of facts and stories about a fictional American town. It's a long rambling reminiscence with few recurring characters, no coherent trajectory and no discernible point whatsoever. There are some giggle-worthy sente
...more
Penny
The title sounded familiar so I picked it up to read on an airline flight. At first, I thought...wait a minute---is this non-fiction? I needed to look up a bit of background information on the book. I really enjoyed the 'history' of Lake Wobegon and tales of some of its inhabitants.

Sometimes I will travel through small towns and think about what it must be like to live there or I will see people whose faces or actions make me wonder what their story is...reading this book was very satisfying in
...more
Pamela_b_lawrencemsn.com
So wonderful, a collection of short stories and vignettes of the characters in the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. There's a hilarious account of why the town, and Mist County that it sits in, are not on any map. Also fun: description of the Living Flag ceremony, its origins and history, and the Sons of Knute Ice Melt contest. He adds footnotes that contain some of the biggest chuckles, such as the town council meeting in which repairing the sidewalks is debated, and his description of two compe ...more
David Jacobson
Lake Wobegon Days, as anyone who has listened to "A Prairie Home Companion" would expect, is filled with humorous and sentimental observations about life in small-town, midwestern America. "Majestic doesn't appeal to us; we like the Grand Canyon better with Clarence and Arlene parked in front of it, smiling." But there are sad aspects to the story as well, or more accurately, nostalgia: happiness in remembering the good old times and sadness that they are gone forever. At least, this is how I vi ...more
Shaindel
Aug 29, 2008 Shaindel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Keillor, Midwesterners
I love Garrison Keillor. Being from the frigid Midwest (okay, Indiana's not as cold as Minnesota), I always feel at home reading Keillor. I discuss that in a little bit in an interview here:

http://www.outsiderwriters.org/conten...

when asked if having a poem on The Prairie Home Companion website means more if you're from the Midwest.

Lake Wobegon Days = fun, humorous, and heartwarming.
Shai Sachs
I read this book over Thanksgiving break in Minnesota; it seemed like a very fitting time and place. And with a fair amount of expectation, too - Lake Wobegon is a famous symbol of salt-of-the-earth rural life, populated by simple folks who are the very incarnation of heartland values, and so on and so forth. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

As far as that goes, I think this book is too long by a fair stretch. Where a handful of short stories would have illustrated this charming little
...more
Elisse Goldstein-clark
A brilliant book that I truly believe is a classic of American fiction. If I feel blue and need to laugh, I know I can open this book at random and laugh until the tears run down my face. Keillor did the seemingly impossible- made being Norwegian, Lutheran, Catholic, Midwestern, and Minnesotan resonate with everyone, including a Jewish-Israeli woman from NYC! He created a place and people that you can identify with, no matter your background, religion, or where you grew up, and while bitter enou ...more
Sherrill Watson
Written in 1985, with illustrations.

I listen to Garrison on the radio every Saturday night -- still!

This is his first book (I think) and probably his best. With news from "Lake Wobegon"; including Home, New Albion, Forebears, Summa Quod Summas, Protestant, Summer, Fall, Winter, News, Spring, Revival, and 23 pps of a footnote from "Harold" which is a too-long harangue from a young adult against his parents and the town in general over everything teenagers usually gripe about.

I hope he is as gentl
...more
The Night Hawk (Erin)
a very boring look at small town life
Steph
Not really my thing at all.
David Ward
Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (Viking 1985) (Fiction) is the first book in a wave of the sweetest, funniest books ever set to paper. The town of "Lake Wobegon" can't actually be found on a map of Minnesota (the reason for that is supplied in the book). You see, Lake Wobegon is actually Keillor's hometown in Minnesota reimagined in such fashion as every small-town American will immediately recognize and which Keillor has turned into a franchise on NPR's Saturday evening radio program "A P ...more
Bob
Lake Wobegon Days is a nostalgic look at a fictional small town in Minnesota. The unnamed baby boomer author grew up there, but had moved away some years before supposedly writing this book. He clearly cherishes his memories of growing up there. But, he’s moved on. Lake Wobegon is no longer his home and he knows it.

While much of the book revolves around the author, much doesn’t. He speaks of the history of the town, right from its founding. Along the way, he discusses the everyday adventures an
...more
Tim
I came late to an appreciation of "A Prairie Home Companion" despite long-time exhortations to try it from peers, who felt that it would resonate with my sense of humor and world view (I am, as I keep relating, from a small town in southwestern Montana). I am happy to report that I am now a SOLID FAN! In that spirit, I had been wanting to read this book for some time. Got it, along with three others ("Happy to Be Here," "Leaving Home," and "Wobegon Boy") at a book exchange about a year ago. This ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 02, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Small Town Folk? Radio Listeners?
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - Humor
A friend of mine saw I was reading this book and expressed surprise; she didn't think this would be something I'd like. "So you think a big city gal like me can't appreciate small town charm?" "Yup," she answered. I'd love to prove her wrong, because I'm perverse that way and hate to admit she knows me that well--but... well. I gather it helps if you've listened to Garrison Keilor narrating The Prairie Home Companion on radio--I have not.

More than a few reviewers, even the complementary ones, h
...more
Chana
This book has not been rated.

At first I thought it was interesting and funny and nostalgic, a little sharp tongued. But, as I read, my opinion of the book kept dropping, taking a very sharp drop on the chapter "news" with the "95 Theses 95". That piece of writing was so bitter, sour, pitiful (as in pity poor me, I've been twisted by my parents and my upbringing, I can't get my mother's voice out of my head). Why is that piece of writing in this book? Certainly it can't be something he aired on t
...more
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Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show "A Prairie Home Companion".

Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker.
...more
More about Garrison Keillor...
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“If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?” 42 likes
“He was admired for never being at a loss for words and never wasting any either.” 11 likes
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