Keillor, Garrison: Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories
(researched by Catherine Tankovich)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Keillor, Garrison. Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories. New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1987.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition is published in beige cloth with dust jacket.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
134 leaves; pp. [i-x] xi-xxiii [xxiv] [2] 1-9 [10] 11-15 [16] 17-25 [26] 27-71 [72] 73-83 [84] 85-91 [92] 93-115 [116] 117-131 [132] 133-145 [146] 147-151 [152] 153-157 [158] 159-171 [172] 173-177 [178] 179-211 [212] 213-244 [2]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is an introduction by Keillor entitled "A Letter from Copenhagen". Book is dedicated to Keillor's mother and father, John and Grace. Includes publisher advertisement for other books by Keilllor and a short poem by Keillor about Lake Wobegon.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There is one black and white photograph on the title page of what appears to be a lake town.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Book size: 23cm X 15cm Margins: 2cm on each side and 2.5cm top and bottom Size of text: 17.75cm X 10.75cm The readability of the book is excellent with large margins making the book easy to read. Chapters are titled but not numbered. The first sentence of each chapter is the same, "It has been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon", and is italicized with the first letter a drop cap.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
Wove paper with even, granulated texture. The book consists of the same paper stock throughout. It is in excellent condition and the paper is well-preserved since it is not very old. Endpapers are beige.
11 Description of binding(s)
Teal cloth binding with gold metallic stamping and dotted-line grain. Transcription on spine: Garrison/ Keillor/ Leaving Home/ Viking.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: Leaving/ Home/ Garrison Keillor/ Viking Verso: Copyright, Garrison Keillor/ 1987/ All rights/ reserved
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information on holdings not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The dust jacket has a description of the novel and a brief biography of Keillor on the fly leaf. On the back cover of the jacket is a picture of Keillor.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
There were no other editions printed by Viking books after the initial printing. However, Viking Penguin (a division of Viking Books) has printed numerous editions. (See item #5 for a complete listing of all other editions of Leaving Home.) Source: RLIN and WorldCat
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
Publisher's Weekly reported for the week of October 9, 1987 that there were 750,000 copies for the first printing of the first edition and 50,000 copies for the second printing. I was not able to find amounts of copies of subsequent printings. Source: Publisher's Weekly, 10-9-87
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
Other editions include: Viking, 1987 (large print edition) Faber, 1988 (paperback) Penguin, 1989 (braille) Penguin, 1989 New American Library, 1989 Grossman Publishers, Inc., 1989 Viking Penguin, 1990 Ulverscroft, 1990 (large print edition) Viking Penguin, 1992 (Garrison Keillor Box: Lake Wobegon Days, Leaving Home, Happy to Be Here, and We Are Still Married) Faber, 1993 Penguin, 1997 Faber, 1998 Source: WorldCat and Eureka RLG
6 Last date in print?
The last date in print was February 21, 2000. Source: Witaker's Books in Print
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Leaving Home was the fifth bestselling novel of 1987, having sold more than700,000 copies (I was not able to find the exact number of copies sold in that year). Source: The Bowker Annual, 1988
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
As of October 9, 1987 800,000 copies were in print. The sales by year are unknown. Source: Publisher's Weekly, 10-9-87
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
The following is an advertisement placed in Publisher's Weekly on August 28, 1987: "This collection of stories set in Lake Wobegon is taken from monologues performed on A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor's radio show; each one chronicles some kind of leave- taking or homecoming... These short narratives survive the transition from performance to print beautifully; they are spare, artfully crafted vignettes that will move readers as well as entertain them. Some tales are wildly hilarious, others are gently poignant, but all are simply wonderful." The dust jacket of the fiction novel reads: "This collection of thirty-six stories is Garrison Keillor's farewell tribute to life in Lake Wobegon- 'Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.'" An advertisement from www.Amazon.com reads: "Revisit the beguiling comic world of Lake Wobegon. In the first collection of Lake Wobegon monologues, Keillor tells the readers ore about some of the people from Lake Wobegon Days and introduces some new faces. 'Leaving Home is a book of exceptional charm... delightful... genuinely touching'. --The Wall Street Journal" Sources: Infotrac, AmazonBooks.com, Leaving Home
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
Available to purchase are personalized Lake Wobegon doormats and Lake Wobegon postcards with three different seasonal scenes. In 1990, Longman Publishers published a books by Frances Armstrong Boyd entitled Stories From Lake Wobegon: advanced listening and conversation skills. This text also came with two audiocassette tapes. This book was intended to funciton as instruction in the English language for foreign speakers. Audio-visual activities accompanied it as well. Source: 20th-Century American Bestsellers, Allison Barrett- Lake Wobegon Days
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
The stories of Lake Wobegon are found in numerous other media. Audiocassette tapes include: Lake Wobegon Days. Four cassettes, one for each season. 1985. Lake Wobegon Days. Four cassettes produced by Minnesota Public Radio, March 1987. It was a GrammyAward Winner in 1987. Lake Wobegon Days. Two cassettes. 1989. News from Lake Wobegon. 1983, 1989. Wobegon Tales. 1986. Beyond Lake Wobegon. 1987. More News from Lake Wobegon: Hope. 1989. More News from Lake Wobegon: Faith. 1989. More News from Lake Wobegon: Love. 1989. More News from Lake Wobegon: Humor. 1989. Gospel Birds; and other stories from Lake Wobegon. 1987, 1993. We are Still Married. Two cassettes. 1990. Lake Wobegon USA. Four cassettes. 1990, 1993. Faith: Stories from the Collection: More News from Lake Wobegon. 1991. Patience. 1993. Fertility. 1995. Rhubarb. 1995. Mother, Father, Uncle, Aunt: Stories From Lake Wobegon. Two cassettes. 1996. Wobegon Meets Alternative Radio. 1997. Wobegon Boy. Four cassettes. 1997. Life These Days: Stories from Lake Wobegon. Two Cassettes. 1998. Fall Stories from the Collection: News from Lake Wobegon. 1998. Sequels on compact disc include: News from Lake Wobegon. Four discs. 1983. More News from Lake Wobegon. 1989. More News from Lake Wobegon. Four discs. 1992. News from Lake Wobegon. 1992. Gospel Birds; and other stories of Lake Wobegon. Three discs. 1993. Mother, Father, Uncle, Aunt: stories from Lake Wobegon. Three discs. 1996. News from Lake Wobegon: Summer: Stories from the Collection. 1997. News from Lake Wobegon Winter. 1997. Spring: Stories from the Collection: News from Lake Wobegon. 1998. Life These Days: Stories from Lake Wobegon. Three discs. 1998. Videocassettes: Lake Wobegon Loyalty Days: a recital for mixed baritone and orchestra. Minnesota Public Radio, 1989. Performed with the Minnesota Orchestra- conducted by Phillip Brunelle. Written and read by Garrison Keillor. Produced and directed by Phillip Byrd. Also available on compact disc. Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Spring Weekend. Highbridge, 1992. Includes performances by the Everly Brothers, Taj Mahal, Tom Keith, Albert Lee, Richard Dworsky, Kate MacKenzie, Dan Rowles. Read by Garrison Keillor. Source: Amazonbooks.com
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Translations include: Farvertil Lake Wobegon: en kronike om livets gang et sted i Amerikas hjerte. Borgen, 1989. Danish. En rolig uke i Lake Wobegon. Cappelen, 1988. Norwegian. Det har varit en lugn vecka i Lake Wobegon: nya berattelser. Forum, 1988. Swedish. Source: WorldCat (First Search)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
Unknown
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Leaving Home was Keillor's second novel about Lake Wobegon. The stories of Lake Wobegon are also found in the following novels by Keillor: Lake Wobegon Days. Penguin, 1988. Truckstop and other Lake Wobegon Stories. Penguin, 1995 Wobegon Boy. Viking, 1997. More News From Lake Wobegon: Love. Penguin, 1999. Source: Amazonbooks.com
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Garrison Keillor is most famous for his comical depictions of a prairie town called Lake Wobegon. This shy, six-foot-four man captured the hearts of millions of Americans as he told them stories of a town that became a sort of "American Everytown" (The Gale Group). Keillor made a name for himself through his popular radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, that aired on Minnesota Public for thirteen years. His novel, Lake Wobegon Days,was published by Viking in 1985 and was an instant bestseller. In Lake Wobegon Days Keillor was able to gracefully combine several short comic masterpieces into one novel. Putting his stories down on paper also enabled him to include an abundanceof details, something he could not do in a radio show. His sense of humor comes from his belief that "life is a comedyand because "God is the author, and God writes an awful lot of comedy"(Scholl). Lake Wobegon Days is not as much about Keillor himself as it is about the people who lived in the town at some point over time. The period leading up to the publication of Leaving Home in 1987 included numerous formative events in Keillor's personal life and career. Lake Wobegon Days was enormously successful,as was A Prairie Home Companion. However, during this period he divorced his first wife, Margaret Moos, and married Ulla Skaerved shortly after. Skaerved was a Danish exchange student from Keillor's high school who he got to know at a reunion. Also during this time Keillor planned sessions with producer Sidney Pollock for a film about Lake Wobegon and he decided to end the radio show. Keillor told a shocked audience in 1987 that he wanted to live in Denmark with his wife and have time to be a writer. Disenchanted with celebrityhood and irritated with newspapers, he announced that it was "time to stop" A Prairie Home Companion (Scholl). In the fall of that year Viking Books published Leaving Home, a book that contained thirty-six stories that were originally written for performance on A Prairie Home Companion, and "A Letter from Copenhagen" that told his reasons for leaving the show and his home state of Minnesota. In Leaving Home Keillor told stories about several characters who left home for some reason or another. At the time of publication Keillor doubted that he would ever live in Minnesota again. He claimed that he slowly lost his bearings and "felt lost at home" (Scholl). Keillor found, however, that he could not stay away from radio programs or from the United States. He returned shortly with his wife and took up residence in New York City and began a show called "Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company of the Air" in1989. He has written sever more books, including Wobegon Boy, the third book about Lake Wobegon. His most recent writing is Me: Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente, Governor of Minnesota. As Told to Garrison Keillor (Viking, 1999). He has also made severalother audio recordings since 1987. Though Leaving Home was not one of Keillor's most recognized works, its publication occurred at a crucial time in his life. References cited: Gale Literary Databases. "Contemporary Authors: Garrison Keillor". The Gale Group: 2000. http://www.galenet.com. Scholl, Peter. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Yearbook: 1987.Gala Research Company, Detroit: 1988. pp. 326-337.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
With the popularity that Garrison Keillor received from "A Prairie Home Companion" and Lake Wobegon Days it is not surprising that the public and critics both enjoyed Leaving Home as much as they did. Faithful followers of Keillor's tales of Lake Wobegon love him for his refreshing wit and the folksy, down-home nature of his writings. Though it did not receive quite the attention that Lake Wobegon Days did, Leaving Home was praised by critics before it even hit the shelves. Though some critics claimed that "Keillor represents an overly sentimental and nostalgic view of small-town life", few other reviewers could find anything negative to say about this novel (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 261). Readers anxiously bought Leaving Home, a collection of 36 short stories from "A Prairie Home Companion" monologues that looks into the lives of people from an imaginary village in Minnesota, making it a bestseller. Praising Keillor's ability to capture the reader, Gray writes, "When these tales work, as they often do, they are like American Zen (echoing) Thoreau's idea of salvation through simplicity, that 'we need pray for not higher heaven than the pure senses can furnish, a purely sensuous life.'" Other critics liken Keillor to a contemporary Mark Twain, Will Rogers, or James Thurber. Critics seemed to have their own individual reasons for enjoying Keillor's writings. Gray calls them "perfect bedtime stories that are at best "contemporary folk ales of American comic-karma" and at worst, "these stories are like honey-coated breakfast cereal". Best praised him for his "gentle, homespun wit that is entirely his own", writing that "a funnier place may exist in America today, but if it does, its whereabouts is a well-kept secret". Barol praises Leaving Home as "a lovely book, sweet but never saccharine. The stories," he continues, "are studded with moments of strange beauty." Pipp applauds Keillor for not merely relying his ability to make readers laugh, stating, "Despite his easy humor, though, the book is anything but a comedy. Keillor is also a master at drama and sadness. He's created an ordinary guy who says things out loud that most of us think but don't share with others." Some critics, such as Brunet, like Leaving Home because Keillor "doesn't ramble as much in type as he did on the air" and because the realization that Lake Wobegon does not exist, Brunet claims, is also expressed more in this novel than it was on his radio show. Almost all reviewers agree that Leaving Home made fans love Keillor and the fictional characters of Lake Wobegon all the more. Sources: Barol, Bill. "What Now, Wobegon?" Newsweek. p82. October 5, 1987. Best, Nicholas. "Books: Wobegon Days". The Financial Times Limited. pXVII. January 16, 1988. Brunet, Elena. "Current Paperbacks: Leaving Home". Los Angeles Times p10. January 1, 1989. Gray, Spalding. "Keillor, Garrison". New York Times. p9. October 4, 1987. Johnbson, George. "New and Noteworthy". New York Times. p34. January 15, 1989. Parr, John. "Love makes comic world go round". The Toronto Star. November 7, 1987.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
With the popularity that Garrison Keillor received from "A Prairie Home Companion" and Lake Wobegon Days it is not surprising that the public and critics both enjoyed Leaving Home as much as they did. Faithful followers of Keillor's tales of Lake Wobegon love him for his refreshing wit and the folksy, down-home nature of his writings. Though it did not receive quite the attention that Lake Wobegon Days did, Leaving Home was praised by critics before it even hit the shelves. Though some critics claimed that "Keillor represents an overly sentimental and nostalgic view of small-town life", few other reviewers could find anything negative to say about this novel (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 261). Readers anxiously bought Leaving Home, a collection of 36 short stories from "A Prairie Home Companion" monologues that looks into the lives of people from an imaginary village in Minnesota, making it a bestseller. Praising Keillor's ability to capture the reader, Gray writes, "When these tales work, as they often do, they are like American Zen (echoing) Thoreau's idea of salvation through simplicity, that 'we need pray for not higher heaven than the pure senses can furnish, a purely sensuous life.'" Other critics liken Keillor to a contemporary Mark Twain, Will Rogers, or James Thurber. Critics seemed to have their own individual reasons for enjoying Keillor's writings. Gray calls them "perfect bedtime stories that are at best "contemporary folk ales of American comic-karma" and at worst, "these stories are like honey-coated breakfast cereal". Best praised him for his "gentle, homespun wit that is entirely his own", writing that "a funnier place may exist in America today, but if it does, its whereabouts is a well-kept secret". Barol praises Leaving Home as "a lovely book, sweet but never saccharine. The stories," he continues, "are studded with moments of strange beauty." Pipp applauds Keillor for not merely relying his ability to make readers laugh, stating, "Despite his easy humor, though, the book is anything but a comedy. Keillor is also a master at drama and sadness. He's created an ordinary guy who says things out loud that most of us think but don't share with others." Some critics, such as Brunet, like Leaving Home because Keillor "doesn't ramble as much in type as he did on the air" and because the realization that Lake Wobegon does not exist, Brunet claims, is also expressed more in this novel than it was on his radio show. Almost all reviewers agree that Leaving Home made fans love Keillor and the fictional characters of Lake Wobegon all the more. Sources: Barol, Bill. "What Now, Wobegon?" Newsweek. p82. October 5, 1987. Best, Nicholas. "Books: Wobegon Days". The Financial Times Limited. pXVII. January 16, 1988. Brunet, Elena. "Current Paperbacks: Leaving Home". Los Angeles Times p10. January 1, 1989. Gray, Spalding. "Keillor, Garrison". New York Times. p9. October 4, 1987. Johnbson, George. "New and Noteworthy". New York Times. p34. January 15, 1989. Parr, John. "Love makes comic world go round". The Toronto Star. November 7, 1987.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
After the tremendous success of Garrison Keillor's first novel, Lake Wobegon Days, critics and readers were curious to see how Leaving Home would be received. This second book, that contained more hilarious and heartwarming stories from the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, was on the bestseller's list in 1987 and is still in print today. When Leaving Home stayed on the bestseller's list for over twenty weeks it was obvious that the public loved Keillor's storytelling whether over the air on in print. Both of these fictional works about Lake Wobegon derive from his radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" which aired for over a decade. Keillor's success and recognition continued to increase after the release of Leaving Home as he wrote numerous other books and produced many audio recordings of his stories. The town of Lake Wobegon became for many people a home away from home. Keillor was able to create a fictional place with a simple way of life that seems desirable us and he has invented characters that somehow seem like people that we all know or to whom we can relate. Readers love him for his combination of wit and sentimentality, either laughing out loud or crying at each little vignette that he creates. His works recall other bestselling authors who depict certain regional locations and make the reader feel as though they have suddenly stepped into another area. His appeal to nostalgia and sentimentality is an approach that numerous authors use and may explain why the public loves him so much. Unlike many other bestselling authors whose books later became movies, Keillor's career began on the radio and then moved to books. Perhaps a combination of these and other elements explain Keillor's success and also tell us more about other bestselling novels. Keillor has a unique ability to draw readers into his tales and make them feel as though they are a part of the community he describes. His vivid descriptions of the rural prairie town of Lake Wobegon become familiar to readers and make them feel as though they, too, are experiencing the landscape. He describes the community's dependence on the weather for their farming, writing, "The rain was more than farmers needed and came at the wrong time, keeping them out of the fields, and now planting is late. Farmers are in enough trouble as it is, and even if they could run the weather as they please, they still might not make it." After a long night and much embarrassment Roger, a farmer, settles in bed next to his wife and prays, "Thank you God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough. Thank you for the rain. And for the chance to wake up in three hours and go fishing: I thank you for that now, because I won't feel so thankful then." With portraits such as this Keillor provides a kind of regional humor that is reminiscent of many other authors. Critics often compare Keillor to well-known authors such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and James Thurber (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 1999). Mark Twain, arguably America's greatest humorist, wrote of Huck Finn's adventures in the South during the period of slavery. Using local dialect Twain captured the essence of the region at that time, in the same way that Keillor does with Lake Wobegon. While the town is fictional, the descriptions of it are remarkably similar to the Minnesota town in which Keillor grew up. It is interesting to note that he recently made an audio recording of Huckleberry Finn, perhaps because he appreciated the regional humor in Twain's writings that he also used in his own. Critics often associate Keillor with other authors who either created mythical places as he did or who portrayed stories of their own hometowns. Stephen Wilbers wrote an article in American Studies, claiming, "In spinning his fanciful and gently satiric tales of life in Lake Wobegon? Keillor invites comparison with an earlier Midwesterner, James Thurber, and with the late E.B. White, whose stories evoke life in rural Maine so convincingly" (Wilbers, 1989). Bret Harte, a nineteenth century author, wrote about the California gold rush and laid the foundations for the Western. Roy Blount wrote several books of Southern humor, poking fun at and also fondly recalling the South and its idiosyncrasies. Blount made regular guest appearances on "A Prairie Home Companion" and his writings sparked Keillor to remark that his book Roy Blount's Book of Southern Humor "along with the Bible and Shakespeare's plays and a good dictionary, should just about do it for you" (amazon.com). Rebecca Wells, author of Little Alters Everywhere and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, also depicts life in the deep South where Southern belles mix with "rednecks" and Cajuns alike. Her combination of wit and tragedy is similar to Keillor's. He is often compared to Will Rogers as well, who shares the same rural frontier background. "Keillor, like Will Rogers," a New York Times book review claimed, "creates an immediate emotional relationship with his readers," (Lurie, 1988). The success of these authors reveals that audiences enjoy experiencing regional culture and humor by an author who is able to creatively and accurately depict everyday life in these settings. The nostalgic appeal that Keillor uses in Leaving Home may be the most alluring aspect to the public and may explain why his novels are so beloved. The dust jacket of Leaving Home describes Lake Wobegon as a place "Where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." In creating his own version of an idealized landscape, Keillor creates in his readers a longing for a simpler life that has not been touched by modern advances. "The residents of Lake Wobegon resist change and technology and live a simpler life," one critic writes describing the town's contrast to life as most American's experience it today (Contemporary Literary Criticism, 1999). In his stories Keillor lures people into the comic town of Lake Wobegon that is, as the dust jacket reads, "the town that time forgot, that the decades cannot improve." Yet it is interesting that Lake Wobegon is appealing to so many people since Keillor does not exactly portray it as an ideal place to live. In contrast, Keillor gives the reader many reasons to avoid Lake Wobegon, such as its drab landscape and its typical small town problems. "The perils of that little town on the prairie have to be set out," Keillor said in an interview, "boredom, loneliness, alcohol, self-hatred and madness" (Lurie, 1988). John E. Miller, in an essay comparing Sinclair Lewis and Keillor, writes, "Life in Lake Wobegon is not perfect, but it is whole. It is within this community that a collectivity of individuals find meaning and freedom, not in escape nor in quixotic efforts to remake society, but in the day to day transactions, resolutions, and interactions that make and individual a social being" (Miller, 1987). In a book review for the Detroit News Tracy Pipp claimed, "Keillor's strength? is in the reminiscences of days past" (Pipp, 1997). It is ultimately Keillor's ability to craft this wholeness and wistfulness for simpler times that creates a sense of nostalgia for the quintessential small town of Lake Wobegon. Critics note a continuity between Keillor and his predecessors in their appeal to nostalgia and sentimentality. Thornton Wilder, author of Our Town, is perhaps the best example of one who is known for depicting a nostalgic view of a small town. His portrayal of the history of a placid New Hampshire town appealed to many readers who longed to belong to such a place. Books such as Our Town and Leaving Home captivate the imagination of American audiences, Wilbers wrote, because they address a need "for a sense of community and belonging, for reassurance against social disruption and the threat of loss- that need, in short, for a sense of place" (Wilbers, 1989). Keillor addresses this need and makes readers feel a sense of belonging "by calling on our shared experience" (Wilbers, 1989). We realize that the characters of Lake Wobegon are not really all strong, beautiful or above average but, instead, they are typical people who experience common events and often make the same mistakes and feel the same emotions that we do. In this sense we feel do feel a sense of belonging when reading or listening to Keillor's tales. Sinclair Lewis' is yet another novel that resembles Leaving Home's nostalgic appeal. Many believe that Lewis' novel "redefined the way in which Americans thought about their small towns" (Miller, 1987). Miller notices similarities between Lewis and Keillor in their abilities to give detailed observation and description of life in their small towns (1987). Booth Tarkington's Seventeen is yet another example of a book in this genre that appeals to emotions and longing for times past. Referring to Leaving Home, Spalding Gray wrote, "For some of you, (Keillor's stories) will make you remember the home that you never had" (1987). American and international audiences alike seemed to have a great liking for Keillor's "folksy, down-home nature of his themes, which tend to celebrate and uphold the values of small-town America" (CLC, 1999). He is not without his critics, however, and he is sometimes reprimanded for representing an overly sentimental and nostalgic view of small-town life (CLC, 1999). One harsh critic described Leaving Home as "a sweet picture of small-town life, misty around the edges, that panders to the nostalgic and escapist yearnings of a society alienated from the present and aware that it is on the skids" (Wilbers, 1989). Despite remarks like this one, Leaving Home was raved about by many and is still widely read today. Keillor's nostalgic appeal followed in the trail of many other bestsellers and seems to still satisfy a certain need or desire of readers. "Life is complicated and not for the timid," Keillor writes, "It's an experience that when it's done, it will take us a while to get over it. We'll look back on all the good things we surrendered in favor of deadly trash and wish we had returned and reclaimed them. We may sit in a cool corner of hell and wish we had kept the ballpark, built the shops elsewhere, and not killed off all those cornfields," depicting the very nostalgic emotions that draw readers to Lake Wobegon and its quirky characters. The success of Leaving Home may also be a result of the fact that Keillor was already well known and liked. This collection of stories followeed quickly after the release of bestselling Lake Wobegon Days, which may have boosted its sales. On the outside cover Garrison Keillor's name is in large, bold letters in the very center. A large picture of Keillor covers the entire back of the dust jacket. People knew his name already from "A Prairie Home Companion" and Lake Wobegon Days, a fact that may explain the immediate popularity of Leaving Home. Similarly, many authors appear repeatedly on the bestseller's list because they are already established household names. Authors such as Danielle Steel and John Grisham are such authors whose success is nearly guaranteed because of their name recognition. That Keillor wrote a book entitled Leaving Home at the time that he left his Minnesota home and headed for Denmark most likely boosted his sales, as well. Critics often cited this piece of information as interesting and viewed the collection of stories involving Lake Wobegon characters leaving their own homes as glimpses into Keillor's personal life. Both his name recognition and the events occurring in his life also help to explain the great success of Leaving Home. Despite all of the similarities between Keillor and other authors there is also one large difference. While many authors write books that later become motion pictures, Keillor took his radio broadcasts and compiled them into a book. John Grisham and Tom Clancy are notorious for having films made of nearly every book they write, and are sometimes criticized for writing movie scripts rather than pieces of literature. Keillor, by contrast, is the exception because the popularity of his radio show contributed to the success of his written works. "A Prairie Home Companion" had nearly three to four million listeners weekly and it is safe to assume that these loyal listeners also bought his books. This interesting fact sets Keillor apart from other bestselling authors in a unique way. Leaving Home could have most likely sold because of its endearing stories and fascinating characters, but many factors probably contributed to its great success. Keillor's use of regional humor and appeal to nostalgia are common among bestselling books and help to explain why audiences love his stories so much. These factors, along with his already established recognition and the fact that he was "leaving home" contributed to its appeal. Yet it was also unique in that the stories in Leaving Home were first told over public radio. "Leaving Home will most likely make Garrison Keillor's fans love him all the more," Gray wrote, and it seems to have done just that. Works Cited: Gray, Spalding. "Keillor, Garrison." New York Times. p9. October, 4, 1987. "Keillor, Garrison." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 115, p260-283. The Gale Group. Detroit, 1999. Lurie, Alison. "The Frog Prince." The New York Review of Books. p33-4. November 24, 1988. Miller, John E. "The Distance Between Gopher Prairie and Lake Wobegon: Sinclair Lewis and Garrison Keillor on the Small Town Experience." Centenniel Review, Vol. 31, p432-46. Fall 1987. Pipp, Tracy L. "Garrison Keillor makes a small story a grand tale." The Detroit News. November 24, 1997. Wilbers, Stephen. "Lake Wobegon : Mythical Place and the American Imagination." American Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1, p5-20. Spring, 1989. Online Sources: http://www.amazonbooks.com http://www.engl.virginia.edu/courses/entc312/s00/best80.html
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