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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon
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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  2,379 ratings  ·  454 reviews
Garrison Keillor makes his long- awaited return to Lake Wobegon with this New York Times bestseller

The first new Lake Wobegon novel in seven years is a cause for celebration. And Pontoon is nothing less than a spectacular return to form?replete with a bowling ball-urn, a hot-air balloon, giant duck decoys, a flying Elvis, and, most importantly, Wally?s pontoon boat. As th
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published September 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Collin
Jan 28, 2008 Collin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of light fiction. It's a fast read.
I'm a huge fan of Keillor and his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. My favorite weekly piece from the show is The News from Lake Wobegon. Keillor has written (I think) a few books on the fictional Minnesota town that lies somewhere between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.

The stories are reflective, often funny and always very moving. Keillor is a fascinating storyteller, and his voice aches with nostalgia. When my aunt gave me Pontoon, I was excited to read a long story about the town, rather
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Andrew
A schizophrenic little title, feeling somewhat like it was written by the lovechild of Jack Kerouac and Martha Stewart, Pontoon is a dryly hysterical story from NPR's very own Garrison Keillor. I'd never read anything of his before, only heard his radio show, and was surprised to find how smoothly the transition from one medium to the next went. The writing style is suited to his manner of speech perfectly, and it's easy to hear Garrison filling in for your standard inner narrator without much e ...more
Joy H.
This audio-CD of Garrison Keillor's novel, _PONTOON_, is priceless! I'm having such a good time listening to it. Garrison Keillor's dry delivery makes the story so funny that I doubt if reading the book could be more amusing.

Keillor's character development is delightful. His description of each character's outlook on life makes me smile broadly. As I listen, I recognize some of my own ideas about life and that makes it all the more fun.

Although I tend to avoid audio versions because my mind wand
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Tammie McElligott
As a fan of Keillor's radio show I thought I'd give his novel a try. I'm also a Lutheran who always giggles at his references of "Lutheran church life."

The story has one of the best first lines:

Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.

How great of a starter is that? The story tells about a daughter coming home and finding her mother has died. She quickly learns her mother had a few secrets and instructions on how to proceed with the funeral.

In add
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Mora
I love Garrison Keillor so he's getting 5 stars no matter what. So far this book is great, although the humor you get in his radio show doesn't come across the same way. I guess that's bound to happen when you change mediums.

The book is about carpe diem. Living your life to the fullest because life is short. It's based around this woman's funeral and how her family discovers this other life she lived where she was a free spirit. Traveling places with her boyfriend at the age of 70 or something.
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Irene
I simply can not capture the magic and humor conveyed by Keillor as he tells a story whenI am reading those same words on a page.
Uncle
Small towns occupy a special place in American (and Canadian) literature. Sentimentalists tend to idealize them as last refuges of homespun warmth and wisdom. Satirists, on the other hand, tend to view them as suffocating and oppressive cultural wastelands.

I have never read a book by Garrison Keillor, yet I am quite familiar with his broadcasts, etc. I had certain assumptions about Keillor's world of the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon. I assumed it would be a safe and kind place, thou
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Antof9
I remember watching the movie Prairie Home Companion, and being surprised that what I perceived as "wholesome" was really just "small town", and coming to the realization that "small town" does not equal "clean". So not only is there a surprising bit of crude in this one, but the beginning was also very reminiscent of that movie. However, it's also got a quirky charm, and was fun enough to keep me entertained.

I think one of the reasons I liked this one is because I lived in North Dakota for a ha
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Rachel Bird
My dad used to play Garrison Keillor tapes for our family when we went on our car trips. My brother and I loved them--the Living Flag story where everyone in town has to be involved to get it done but then nobody can see it so they have to take turns going up to the top of the hospital to get a look, the over-dramatized story of Jim the Ant, the African safari gone awry. Keillor's voice was soothing and strong. We clung to his deep breaths, not being able to wait for what was next.

I had never re
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Annie
Oct 19, 2007 Annie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humor fans
From Booklist
When the angel of death came for Evelyn Peterson, she didn't know that Debbie Detmer would be back in Lake Wobegon for the first time in ages to be married, kinda, in a big lakeside ceremony on a pontoon boat with, among other things, a parachuting Elvis impersonator and a hot-air balloon—all on the day Evelyn's memorial, also at the lake, would be held. Of course, how could she know that? Nobody else in town knew Debbie was coming, except for her parents, and given how Walter's bee
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Tom Schulte
Keillor impresses the hell out of with this creative, original word play and droll humour that seems to spring effortlessly, naturally, and eternally as resident historian and reported of Lake Woebegone. Parts of this reminds me of what I like most of Tom Robbins. Keillor, however, so constantly and continually spins ou tthe witticisms that at times it threatens to be tiring - I just have to set the book down for a bit and savor before I forget the impressions...
Laura
If you are a fan of Garrison Keillor, or even if you've just heard of him before, listen to this book. Keillor does a wonderful job of setting up the "punchline" of this book. I don't want to give too much away and tell you what happens, but I will say it is both unexpected and exactly what you thought could happen. Keillor is a truly gifted storyteller and writer, which this book makes apparent. Read it for the flawed but loveable characters, the oddball plot, and the criticism of the Midwest ( ...more
Jefferson
Garrison Keillor's Pontoon (2007) is a novel whose chapters read like a linked set of short stories focusing primarily on the death of 82-year old, life-embracing Evelyn Peterson and its effect on her surviving family and friends and secondarily on the return to Lake Woebegone of "that tramp" Debbie Detmer for her quasi-wedding "commitment" ceremony. Keillor tells his tale via the memories, letters, back-stories, and current concerns, etc. of a variety of characters, including Evelyn, her lover ...more
Naila Moon
I remember my Mom talking about Lake Wobegon. Being a kid, I thought it was an actual place. I never knew that the town was a made up place by this author.

I found this book at my local library under the humor section and checked it out. Humor indeed!
I found myself chuckling at the crazy memorial that included a green bowling ball of all things. I also laughed in the wake of other things that happened.

I was totally immersed in the people of Lake Wobegon and have known a few people like them. I c
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Shannon
This book was eh. I guess I just really did not find anything spectacular about it. Honestly, it kept putting me to sleep. Usually I can take a book this size in finish it in a couple of days, but it took me a lot longer.

*Favorite Passage*
"She flew up through a meringue cloud into the mind of God and the embrace of her sainted ancestors all gathered at her grandfather Crandall's farmhouse on a summer morn, the patient horses standing in the shade of a red oak tree, white chickens pecking for bug
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Janice
a very dangerous book ... I fell out of bed laughing

a memorial service and wedding gone awry ... the perfect ending brought a group of Lutheran pastors from Denmark

makes me want to go to the video shop and rent the movie ... can't remember the name, but there was Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin (they're mentioned in this book as well)
Joshua
Apr 13, 2008 Joshua rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patricia
Garrison Keillor has the knack of revealing the inner lives of very ordinary people in a way that makes them seem most extraordinary. After reading this book I found myself looking at my neighbors and workmates in a new light; wondering if they, too, could be hiding an interesting life behind the veneer they present others.
Susan
Anyone who loves Prairie Home Companion (radio show) will enjoy Pontoon. In typical Keillor storytelling tone, it meanders heartland style, rambling from unique personalities to oddball occurrences until it concludes in a hilarious ending that you should have seen coming but didn't! All that’s missing is a piece of rhubarb pie!
Adam
A great read for anyone who likes a good yarn. Garrison Keillor is just a wonderful storyteller; his writing is great (this book has some of the best first lines I've ever read) and his character development even better.
Eric Rasmussen
I love the voice, especially when I imagine Mr. Keillor reading in my head. But I'm not sure what this is supposed to be. It doesn't strive for a realistic depiction of small town life. But it's not quite caricature either. Nor is it full-on fantasy, nor does it straight up make fun of its characters, but it certainly doesn't offer them much respect either. Throw in some big perspective issues and some monumentally clunky dialogue, and this is a strange fable that in some strange ways relates to ...more
Rhona
I love just about anything by Garrison Keillor. It seems he's been on a pontoon kick lately but that's ok. I love it when an author makes me laugh out loud, and there are plenty of times I did that with this book.
Lisa
I love Garrison Keillor.... and I could listen to him read anything! In fact, it's a dream of mine to hear him read my fiction. I guess I'd have to submit it to him for consideration first, though, wouldn't I?
Christine
Anyone who enjoys Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion would enjoy this. Some of his other books have been dry and boring and I put them down and never finished them, but this one's a keeper.
Fran
May 21, 2008 Fran rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Garrison Keillor/ Lake Woebegone fans
Recommended to Fran by: Barnes and Noble had it cheap
Great if you are a Garrison Keillor fan. I was reading it in the car with my 3 year old grandson and I was laughing so hard that he started laughing too. That's high praise indeed.
Andrea Doria
Some of Keillor's novels are a bit dark, but this one is like an extended version of News from Lake Wobegon (NFLW). It definitely has a plot, with a few main characters that are not familiar to me from NFLW, and some minor characters I've met before. Some of the scenes are over the top, what with a paragliding teenager, parachuting Elvis, twenty visiting Danish pastors on a sinking boat, etc., but that's fine with me. And no one could have read this better than GK himself.

If I've had a stressfu
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Cathy Garrard
I highly recommend if you enjoy Keillor's radio show. A quick read with hilarious characters and a well-woven plot...would make a great movie.
Sal4gal
I listened to the Audible version.

1. What would have made Pontoon better?

I have heard various Lake Wobegon stories on NPR and was anxious to listen to this. I love this type of dry humor. However, within the first half hour, I was very unimpressed with the constant barrage of sexual stories including Viagra. I guess that I am a prude, but proud of it.

2. Would you be willing to try another one of Garrison Keillor’s performances?

Sure, if I knew of any that were clean.

3. If you could play editor, w
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Robert
I received this book as a Christmas gift, maybe re-gifted. We had recently returned from a visit with some old friends and there had been discussion about quality of life in our remaining years. I had just started Atul Gawande's book on Being Mortal. Just to see what Keillor's book was all about I picked it up to scan the first few pages. On the first page an elderly woman returns from eating dinner out with some friends and goes to bed with a book to wrap up the day. The angel of death appears ...more
Coleen
(3.5 stars) Pontoon begins with the death of an elderly woman living in Lake Wobegon. It ends with the woman's memorial service, and in between the reader catches a glimpse of various happenings in the town, many of them centering around her daughter & her coping mechanisms following her mother's death.

I think the jury is still out regarding my feelings for Garrison Keillor's writing. This is my second read of his, both having been on audio. While for the most part I enjoy the way he can exp
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Carol
Yes, I listen to good old Garrison Keillor as I drove one hour to and from my first job (graduated with a MFA degree) and how wonderful it was to work from 4pm to 12 midnight, yet get to listen to Garrison Keillor on the radio while typesetting ("old school") to meet deadlines.

Evelyn, a leggy, energetic beauty with a mind of her own—kicked up her heels after divorcing her morose husband of 40 years, traveled and raised hell and took up with old boyfriend Raoul (aka TV’s “Yonny Yonson of the Yung
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2014
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.
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More about Garrison Keillor...
Good Poems Lake Wobegon Days Good Poems for Hard Times Lake Wobegon Summer, 1956 Leaving Home

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“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.” 220 likes
“Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.” 137 likes
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