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Autobiography

June 1, 2003 |


My Dear Garrison:
I have all your books, audio tapes and videos. Will you ever consent to writing your autobiography?

Joyce Burke

You're sweet to be curious, Joyce. I do think I've had an interesting life, and suppose it could be told, but I'm not sure what the motivation should be. To write history, I suppose ---- to try to describe Anoka, Minnesota, in the Fifties and the pleasant countryside of Brooklyn Park and my grandmother Dora Powell and the amazement that was the University of Minnesota in the Sixties ---- a hotbed of politics and theater and idealism and literary ambition and upward-striving young Minnesotans. There were veterans studying on the G.I. Bill and hundreds of Africans and such a democratic spirit out to change the world and make it hospitable to all of God's children, white and black, male and female, gay and straight. I admire the ideals of the folks I grew up with, my teachers and classmates, and don't find books that describe them. And of course an autobiography would be a chance to pay homage to all the people whom I owe my life to. I just don't know that it'd be a good book, which, being 60, I very much would want any book of mine to be. And it's hard to think about writing about loved ones and friends and colleagues ----- what would be gained from this? And then there is the sheer vanity to be stifled. And finally, at 60, I don't feel I have time to waste in looking backward --- I want to push forward and try to write a good novel and try to make something out of "A Prairie Home Companion". I don't really have any secrets, and if you and I were sitting in a dark corner and you asked me something about my life I'd tell you as much as you wanted to know. But putting it down on paper is a daunting idea. So I'll postpone.

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