Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956 Paperback – Sep 10 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
With a four-year hiatus since Wobegon Boy, legions of Keillor faithful will likely hold candlelight vigils in front of their favorite booksellers awaiting the arrival of this long overdue episode in the ongoing checkered history of the fictional Minnesota hamlet. Vacillating between poignant, endearing, outrageous and mocking, this thoroughly engaging, frequently hilarious bildungsroman is narrated by the libidinous, iconoclastic 14-year-old wannabe writer Gary. Recounting the trials and tribulations of coming of age under the smothering influence of the Sanctified Brethren, a religious sect preaching unrelenting hellfire and damnation during the summer of 1956 in the tiny backwater of Lake Wobegon, the somewhat nerdy hero has a sexual fixation on his slightly older cousin Kate, abhors his geeky goody-two-shoes older sister, is obsessed with pornographic sexual fantasies engendered from reading a purloined copy of the verboten magazine High School Orgies, and is preoccupied by such intellectual pursuits as classifying variations of the 10 known categories of flatulence. Given an Underwood typewriter as a bribe from his uncle to tattletale on Kate's romance with a ne'er-do-well local baseball hero, Gary turns to writing pornographic stories about his imagined adventures with Kate before he is serendipitously handed the job of substitute sportswriter for the local paper. Game after game, he is forced to observe Kate's budding romance, until the affair predictably culminates in the age-old biological consequence and the family spins into crisis mode while our hero suffers a broken heart. Although the denouement is more fizzle than bang, avid Keillorites will be left shouting "more." 25-city author tour.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Beloved author and radio persona Keillor (A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book) returns once again to Lake Wobegon, the quintessential small town in Minnesota. It is summer, and as the denizens of Lake Wobegon sit on their front porches, listening to the radio and to the swish of sprinklers on their lawns, 14-year-old Gary struggles to find his own place within the community. Gary suffers from all the hormonally induced anxieties of an adolescent boy but bears an added burden his family belongs to an evangelical group of Brethren whose definitions of appropriate behavior are much stricter than those most parents impose on their teenagers. Gary has, by his own admission, been a good boy, but he is now exploring what it means to be bad as "bad" is defined in 1950s Lake Wobegon. Keillor's wry vignettes of Gary's summer of change and turmoil are laced with his trademark self-deprecating humor. This latest will undoubtedly appeal to Keillor's legions of fans and particularly to those with a nostalgia for both the small town and the follies of youth.
- Caroline Hallsworth, Sudbury P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Saturday night, June 1956, now the sun going down at 7:50 P.M. and the sprinkler swishing in the front yard of our big green house on Green Street, big drops whapping the begonias and lilacs in front of the screened porch where Daddy and I lie reading. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
On the positive side, this book was brashly honest. Keillor talks very frankly about the feelings of an adolescent young man and having been an adolescent young man... well, let's just say that he's being very honest. The author's dry wit for which he's famous is evident as he takes us on these boyhood exploits and unveils his early formative days.
On the negative side, and this may seem prudish and contradictory, it was at times almost too honest. To put it bluntly, a lot of what boys think about at that age is sex. And when they're done thinking about that they think about sex some more. And in between long protracted periods of thinking about sex, they think about how they're going to get some sex. While this is all very truthful and revealing, it just isn't the image I had of Mr. Keillor. Part of his appeal is his homespun squeaky cleanness and this... well, it just wasn't clean. It wasn't lude either, but it just wasn't quite what one expects.
In summary, I'm glad I read it but it has changed my image of the author forever. This is not a diminishment of his person or character, just a rather humanizing change. On the whole that's probably a good thing but it isn't what I would have predicted when I picked up the book that's a certainty.
Meet Gary. He's a geeky fourteen-year-old with self-esteem problems and an alarming crush on his cousin, Kate. Within the course of the book he discovers he has a love of writing. His first stories have talking dogs, incurable diseases and unpleasant weather phenomena, but as he grows up a little and gains some insight into his family, his friends, and himself, he realizes that there's more to write about.
At the heart of it, the book is a pretty typical coming of age story, but it's worth reading if you're a Keillor fan and love his kind of humor (though his jokes and descriptions are more explicit here than they usually are). For me there weren't a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, but I was smiling often and enjoying Keillor's unusual descriptions ("her big yellow butt like two pigs fighting in a laundry bag"). If you're a writer, or just interested in the writing process, you might also like the book because it will give you some wry insights into a writer's mind and also show you some of the development of a novice's work. Plus, there are also some truly touching moments that leap out at you unexpectedly. So if you want a quick, entertaining read that will surprise you sometimes (with funniness or poignancy) read Lake Wobegon Summer 1956.
Although the main character in an autobiography is the writer himself, his intense focus however is on his cousin Kate and the trials and tribulations of her love life with the local hero, a talented baseball pitcher whose family puts hers to shame. The 14-year-old Gary, who composes pornographic poetry to fend off the school bully, adores the 17-year-old Kate for her boldness in standing firm against the conservative morality her overly religious family imposes on her. We sense a message that the author tailors into the story how both Gary and Kate use their individual talents to try to escape the rigorous boredom of the pious country life, each in their own way. Gary succeeds in becoming the town's paper's sports writer and Kate gets her lover to marry her.
Unclear is the symbolic presence of his self-righteous older sister who is unrelenting in tormenting him. But pleasant is the array of eccentric and hilarious individuals with names worthy to be called dickensian, that populate his forsaken Midwestern town.
In a story full of anecdotal historical tidbits of a summer with doo-wop and baseball and poems and family gossip, Kate represents the symbol of many a country bumpkin trying to shake off the restraints put on her.Read more ›
I read LAKE WOBEGON DAYS a few years ago, and although I found it to be generally slow-moving, it was nonetheless also consistently moving, poetic and sweet (something like maple syrup, all told). It was probably my favorite book in a year full of pretty good books, so I was eager to pick up another Keillor title before long. When LAKE WOBEGON SUMMER 1956 came out in hardcover, I snatched it up and dove in with exuberance and relish (and a little picnic table mustard and ketchup).
LAKE WOBEGON SUMMER 1956 starts off strongly enough, setting up an interesting family of characters, and putting them through a series of interesting and keenly observed episodes of mid-twentieth century interpersonal drama. The young male protagonist portrays himself, often humorously, as something of a tortured soul: a sensitive artistic type saddled with an incurably filthy mind who, as plain bad luck would have it, was born into the midst of a thick-witted, Bible-toting household.
Young Gary is relentlessly persecuted by his goody-goody older sister, unjustly scolded and disciplined by his humorless father, and gossiped about by his aunts. It's only his free spirit cousin, whom he has the hots for, and his somewhat free-thinking mother that give Gary some of the room he needs to grow into the adult who'll eventually write down all of these sometimes fond, sometimes painful memories. There's also an uncle that gives him the best gift anyone could give a boy with too many thoughts in his head: a typewriter.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoy Garrison Keillor's writing, and this book is no exception. What I enjoyed most were his moments of enlightenment. Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Refrain Jenny
Please be warned: If you enjoyed family style listening to Keillor's older feel-good radio-style vinettes of Lake Wobegon, such as "Faith", "Rhubarb," and the like, DON'T play this... Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2004
while there were instances of humor, mostly the book seemed rather gross. If Garrison's goal was to get into the mind of a sexually obsessed 13 year old (the main character seemed... Read morePublished on July 24 2003
There are few authors alive today who possess the ability to seamlessly mix sweet nostalgia with bittersweet melancholy in their writings. Read morePublished on April 1 2003 by Michael Lima
I was looking forward to the homey, innocent stories so familiar to G.K. fans, but he must have thought that, by injecting soft porn in the guise of the main character's sophmoric... Read morePublished on March 14 2003 by Michael Clahr
I've purchased Keillor's audio tapes for years. I haven't listened to the show lately and maybe I should. In the past I've found Keillor to be funny, poignant and nostalgic. Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2003 by John A. Lefcourte
Without question, Keillor is one of our best "journalistic" literateurs. But this effort is a little thin in places. Too mawkish in parts. But read it, anyway. Read morePublished on Dec 11 2002
Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 reminds me of when i was young garys' age. All he has on his mind is girls, naked girls. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2002 by Adam Ross