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The Secret Pleasures of Novellizing

September 18, 2008 | 7 Comments



Mr. Keillor,
On Amazon.com some days ago I came across a listing for the Lake Wobegon novel, Liberty. There wasn't much more about the project than some cover artwork. I enjoyed Pontoon immensely, so much in fact that reading the rest of your books became a New Year's Resolution (with my completing of Leaving Home just this week, the goal was achieved), and I'm wondering what else is there about Liberty that I should know?

Chris C.

It's a short comic novel, like Pontoon, and it's the second in a series of short Lake Wobegon novels, the third of which, Pilgrims, will come out in 2009. Liberty is about Clint Bunsen's crisis of faith when he feels that his life in Lake Wobegon is a big mistake and all his work to make the Fourth of July amazing and spectacular is for naught, that the town despises achievement and that he should head for California. He falls in love with a young psychic who marches in the parade as the Statue of Liberty, hence the title. But his wife Irene is stalwart and is not ready to lose him so easily. And there lies the story.

I got to invent some wonderful marching units for the parade, including the Whistling Mothers and the Betsy Ross Blanket Toss and I brought in a drum-and-bugle corps which I named for the late Will Jones, a columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune who was so generous to our show in its early years and who adored drum-and-bugle corps. He also loved Sally Rand and Peggy Lee and Shelley Berman, but he adored marching bands. One of the secret pleasures of novellizing — you get to remember the dead — I put my old friend Joe O'Connell into every book I write. What else do you want to know? I go to Viking to proofread the final page proofs. I sit in a basement room with a sharp No. 2 pencil and I read the entire book line by line, looking for the elusive typoe, hte fatal error that if I see it in the finished bok will drive me absolutely ntus.


7 Comments


Garrison,
I just received confirmation my
autographed copy of "Liberty" is
on the way -- can't wait to laugh!

Sally Rand! Her name brings back
memories. In her later years she
lived down the street from me in
the small town of Glendora in
the East San Gabriel Valley -- 30
miles east of Los Angeles.
My mother always told stories of
Sally and her "fans," and her fans.
We always tried to "sneak a peek" of
her when we walked by her house on
the way to town (a town that still
exists much as it was in the
1960's).

Typos drive me nuts too -- I'll
be watching with my magnifying
lenses!
Thanks for the memory...
Sandy
San Clemente


Now THIS one was good. Mr. Keillor's responses are always witty and thoughtful but this won was grate!


HMMM WHAT'S A URL: SOUNDS LIKE A KIDNEY PROBLEM.

I NO WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT TYPOS, THANKS FOR THE LAUGH AND SO MANY GREAT SHOWS OVER LOW THESE MANY YEARS YOU HAVE KEPT ME HIGH ON SATURDAY NITES AND I DO LOVE MRS. SUNDBERG'S WORDS EACH WEEK. SHE IS SO DOWN TO EARTH AND HONEST, THE FEMALE YOU. MAY I ASK WHO SHE IS ? OH I JUST DID.
HUGS FROM CURIOUS MARILYN


Like the word ricochet on p.263. Once accomplished spelling makes no difference to the outcome.
KP


I remember hearing about this 4th of July Parade on the show, right?


I feel great empathy with Clint Bunsen's notion that, "the town despises achievement" here in zoning land (where the woman administering the code reached for a pencil to do the cyphering on how many times 3 goes into 15.1, when the answer is expressed in houses).

I have been sharing my thoughts with others via group e-mails, but I can't seem to edit complex issues down to soundbites. How on earth did a voluble fellow such as yourself write a "short" comic novel?


Meredith


Ah, Will Jones - we had a copy of his very amusing cookbook "Wild in the Kitchen" when I was a kid. I loved reading his anecdotes about topics such as twisting white and red wine in opposite directions when pouring, and the funny drawings in the book, such as a cowboy grilling a steak while a pained-looking cow with a large band-aid on its hindquarters grazed in the background. I also habitually read his column "After Last Night" in the Tribune. Nice to have him recalled.

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