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Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

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October 1, 2007 | 5 Comments

Post to the Host:
I just finished Pontoon and enjoyed it immensely. My husband and I saw your one man show this past year when you came to Columbus, Ohio (loved that as well). The book seems to be based on that show. When did you decide to write the book? Sort of like the chicken and the egg question. Which came first? Or was it somewhere in the middle? Just curious how the creative process works.

Michelle M.
Westerville, OH

Pontoon started with a story on the radio show years ago about 26 Lutheran ministers piling onto an 18-foot pontoon boat, which people enjoyed, and so I worked it up into a longer monologue, which I did in the one-man dog-and-pony show. The monologue grew and grew until it got to be 90 minutes long and then it dawned on me that it was all in my head and I had no record of it at all. Also, the stage version, while it worked well onstage, was missing the sort of shading and interior voices that could only be done in prose fiction form. So I started writing it out as a story and found it satisfying to flesh out the character of Evelyn and her lover Raoul and her daughter Barbara and her son Kyle. I had to rein it in lest it turn into a soapy epic — I love that short comic form, maybe because I was a big fan of Wodehouse back in junior high school. But that, in a nutshell, is how the book came to be.


I just finished "Pontoon" too! While
my husband watched the USC football
team win, I read.
After the game I tried to describe the
story. I realized only Garrison could
do that -- way too involved for me
to try to describe. Regardless, I loved

Sandy (San Clemente)

I like telling my mother that you wrote it because she requested more printed Lake Wobegon stories to read to her friends after seeing the "one-man dog-and-pony show".
I almost have her convinced of my story.


Dear Mr. Keillor,
I have just finished listening to Pontoon (as read by you, of course, through and I can recommend hearing the book rather than reading it for a totally absorbing euphoric experience. Thank you for that.
What I would like to know is what is that wonderful music played between each chapter and after the epilogue? Who is the pianist? Glorious music....Great book. and vice versa.
All the Best & Cheers from Australia

Your reading of Pontoon on cd kept laughing through a long car ride, and loved every minute of it. Now that I'm finished I miss Evelyn and Barbara, but remain miffed at Kyle for leaving Barbara out of his new life. I've told all my friends the wonderful vignette of Evelyn's letter from California, where she went to escape the obligation of doing good works at the church. We have a new motto: "I've baked my last bun." Indeed.

"Pontoon" is indeed a Keillor classic. I too listened to the unabridged audio book and noted the similarities to the one-man-show we saw in Sacramento some months ago. At that time, I sensed there was much more to be said about Evelyn, Raoul, Barbara, Kyle and the Lutheran missionaries. I was not disappointed, and will pass the audio down to my sisters to enjoy. I have to say, however, that parts of the book echoed eerily my own current challenges, and reminded me that we must stay alert and aware, for the world is always offering up new perspectives for us everywhere;it's up to us to pay attention to the lessons. Thanks for a wonderful read. . .on so many levels.

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