Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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November 20, 2006 |
Dear Mr. Keillor.
I still haven't listened to your radio show since I'm from Norway and I haven't seen The Prairie Home Companion movie either, since my local movie theatre only showed it for two days, but I get the update mails from your show every week and I have read your book Days in Lake Wobegon, which I really like (I'm starting on book two soon). I have to say that I really like your humorous, but still serious writing about the small town life in Minnesota.
I've been fascinated by the Scandinavian (and especially the Norwegian) people in the Mid-West for a long time, since I figured out that my hometown Hamar was Fargo's sistercity. The thing that fascinates me the most is that everything I read about this group of people makes me think that they are more Norwegian, Swedish and Danish than we "real" Scandinavians are, for example the lutefisk and lefse tradition. I can understand lefse, but lutefisk? Personally, as a normal Norwegian, I'm not so especially fond of Lutefisk, so I wonder why the Norwegian settlers have kept this horrible tradition. We're actually having lutefisk for dinner next week, and I think I have to go to my friend and eat dinner there instead.
Thank you for great books and (I guess) a great radio show.
The lutefisk tradition is a sentimental holiday institution here, observed by many Norwegians and Swedes, especially those in small towns, especially those who attend Lutheran churches or belong to Scandinavian organizations. It's a souvenir of ethnic identity, which is a precious thing to many Americans. As the country becomes more homogenized shopping malls are the same all over, freeways, TV, teenagers, fashion we cherish little things that show we're different from the others. You could get a tattoo, you could put a ring in your nose or ride a Harley or color your hair green, or you could eat lutefisk whatever works. This sameness is the quality of suburbs and a lot of people find it oppressive. The fact that most people consider lutefisk repulsive only adds to the attraction