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Lake Wobegon Factbook
July 13, 2009 |
To the Host:
Each time I hear a News from Lake Wobegon monologue or read one of your books, I wonder if you keep a written record of what you've said about your characters. So many years of so many different personalities, personal histories and interactions among all those people would seem to be very hard to track without documentation.
Or maybe tracking details would get in the way of a good story.
There is such a book, Tom. It's a looseleaf binder, black, and it's called "Lake Wobegon Factbook" and there's one copy at the office and one at home. Various diligent fact-trackers have kept this book up and I tend not to use it so much because it's full of inconsistencies, having recorded my inaccuracies over the past 35 years. So I mostly ignore it and focus on the characters whom I know well and allow the others to recede into the mists. Though just the other day, in Avon, a woman said to me, "I miss Ella Anderson!" Who I would be happy to bring back, except that I am pretty sure she died. What I need now is a Family Factbook, a detailed guide to my cousins, their spouses, their children, their children's children and THEIR spouses and children. I love my family but it has grown beyond reason, which is why the suburbs have burgeoned and overgrown the potato fields. It's fine that people are doing genealogy but what we need is a guide to relatives living now. And not only their names and birthdates but what they do for a living, what they believe, where they've been, and whether they have a sense of humor or not.