Post to the Host

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

Send GK Your Question »

Gettin' Outta Dodge

March 6, 2008 | 3 Comments

Post to the Host:
I have been listening to the show as long as I can remember, mostly on warm summer nights in my home town of Yuba City. Now I am 22 and find your show very comforting on Saturday nights.It is amazing how much I relate to Lake Wobegon life, growing up very Lutheran and very German out here in California. How do you find this way of life so inspiring?
I am an aspiring artist, and all I could express was how I wanted to get out of my small town. How did you embrace it and make peace?

Emily S.
Campbell, CA

It's natural and inevitable that you wanted to get out of your small town. Everyone has to win some space and light and distance. So did I.
I still do. People from the midwest have always been ambitious travellers and what is travelling about if not to escape from the too familiar? It's still a thrill for me to get in a cab at LaGuardia Airport and ride over the Triborough Bridge and see the towers of Manhattan and ride along the FDR Drive and across 96th Street and Central Park. Escape, escape, escape. But a writer works from the material that chooses him and while I might have rather written crime novels set in Copenhagen, that wasn't what came to me to write. Rather I'm moved to write about the (deeply disguised) lives of old relatives and to honor their fortitude, good humor, and faith that they belonged to the Lord and the Lord would not forget them. But I haven't made my peace with anything. Peace isn't what a writer is about. I'm as jumpy as can be.


Hang in there Emily. I have work clothes that are older than you. If I've found out anything in 52 years it is that the only place I might be fortunate enough to find peace is in my head and in my heart; I cannot go anywhere-large city or small nook on the river bank to necessarily find it. Although it is possible that a person can be in a better frame of mind to find it sitting on the bank watching the river flow.

Gosh, Garrison, Emily Campbell is so lucky!
At the very ripe old age of 22 she has already discovered and appreciates APHC.
I had to move from Houston to tiny Paducah, Kentucky, at the very old age of 37 to even discover public radio. I was hungering for news of the world, you see, and the Paducah Tribune was a starvation diet. And even though I grew up as a Catholic in Texas, I too connect with Lake Wobegon. You've tapped into that deep spring that runs in all of us! God bless you!

Here's part of a poem by Richard Hugo. I have no idea who he is, but he certainly has something to say about people who -- rightly or wrongly -- feel stuck in place. It's called, Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg" (Montana). I found this in a "Moon" tour guide. Sure wish I had written it.
You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn't last, bars that did,the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not know what he's done.
The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bell repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out.
[There's more, but I thought this much puts across the basic idea.]

Previous Post:
« Someone's in the Kitchen

Next Post:
Darkly Funny »

Post to the Host Archive

Complete Post to the Host Archive

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy