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Just Good Manners

July 8, 2009 | 9 Comments

My one-year-old daughter and I met you at the Chautauqua book signing last week. Impressed at how you put each person at ease — a rare skill that I'm not sure came in a package with the others you've developed (writing, performing, etc.). Does this come naturally, or is it work?

Loved the show too.

Matt J.
Rochester, NY


Meeting people isn't a skill, Matt, so much as just good manners. A book signing ought to be done in a certain way if you're going to do it at all. It's not nice for the author to sit behind a table unless he is elderly or infirm — it makes him look like the security guy. The author is supposed to stand out in the open so that he can pose for pictures with anybody who wants to do that, and so that he can bend down and eyeball young children. The author is supposed to sign anything that anybody brings him. The author takes no breaks and he signs books until the line is gone. And the author is supposed to be friendly to each person and make eye contact and be pleased to see them. I've done book signings that went on for six hours and that is physically taxing, but it's worth it. I sit in a room alone and write a book and I am curious who is going to read it. Deeply curious. A book is personal, and here, facing me, is the other person. So I take my time. And if he has a one-year-old daughter, then that's easy. Your daughter is your ticket to special treatment wherever you go, Matt. I know. I used to have a one-year-old. Take her to Italy and you will be royalty.


Listened for years, watched the 4/4/ rerun on Masterpiece Theater, watched the Red Shoes special, saw the PHC film -- and all of these consistently present a picture of a talented, but genuinely nice, man who makes people feel good as he touches them.
Your answer to Matt's question just adds more weight to the evidence that we're lucky to have you around and accessible.
Won't ever have the chance to meet you, but all these extensions make our lives better.

Yes, what a lovely reply to Matt's question.

As I watched the Masterpiece Theatre piece,I lovingly listened to all the love and wisdom Mr. Keiller had to offer. Listening to him speak fills me with pride for being a Norwegian from MN. His kindness and wisdom and manners often inspire me and always touches my heart. Thank you for that.

I also was glad to hear him talk about the writing process, stating that writing is a way to discover what one thinks about "stuff", and that what is required is a full and honest relationship to ones own heart and soul.


I have never been to a book signing, but I'm curious how an author signs books while standing, with no table?

I was one of the house managers when Garrison Keillor came to the Alys Stephens Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and I can attest that he does indeed stand for his signings. And he stood there until every book and program was signed, for well over an hour. It was 11:30 by the time he finished, and I was the very last person to get my book signed. He was obviously tired after doing a two-hour one-man show and signing books for an hour, but he was still gracious and friendly. It confirmed every good thought I ever had about him from listening to him on the radio. And it was even more remarkable, because I knew that he had to get on a plane at 6:00 the next morning. Mr. Keillor, you are a tribute to Midwestern upbringing! Thanks for being so patient and kind after sharing your wonderful talents with us!

I also enjoyed the Chautauqua show, and was so impressed with the amount of laughter filling the Amp. Constant laughter - a beautiful sound!

And of course the singing was so great.

In one glorious week, we heard a great radio show, then a fantastic evening with GK at Chautauqua, and topped it off with the documentary on PBS. Who could ask for anything more?

Just like my Dad, who was raised on a farm in the small
town of Pella, Iowa, Garrison Keillor is an authentic, honest, kind
man. Dad always said life wasn't easy on the prairie, especially in winter; he loved the Southern California climate.
Perhaps it's the cold and wind in the midwest that creates people
who "don't have time" for anything other than reality? And, it's that same cold and wind that creates a necessity for friendship and kindness.
San Clemente, CA

Listening to replay of July 11, 2009 show on Sunday, July 12. After reading the above I'm coming to think that the readily available replays on the radio and on the web are just another example of what a nice, accessible guy GK is.

My husband and I took my mother out to Tanglewood one weekend years ago and loved the show, the only one I've seen live. I was impressed at how he actively directed the show while being part of it. My husband and I met GK in Harvard Square the next week and he took the time to ask about the sound quality at Tanglewood. GK has mastered the art of standing there, speaking to everyone individually, signing (I brought a book from my GK collection) while standing, and just generally being a nice, regular guy. "Work" depends on how you define it, but GK is actively engaged at all times in being GK.

I love his voice, his sense of humor, his writing, and the simple pleasure of PHC once a week. (And Writer's Almanac when I catch it.) Our generation's Mark Twain or Will Rogers. What a delight!

To spread more author praise, writer David Sedaris signed books in Louisville the first of July for over twelve hours, into the wee hours of morning, at a street party in his honor. That's grace.

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