Table of Contents
WE ARE STILL MARRIED
Garrison Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, and is the host and writer of
A Prairie Home Companion.
He is the author of ten books (all available from Penguin) including
Lake Wobegon Days
Lake Wobegon Summer
1956. A teacher at the University of Minnesota and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published in the United States of America by
Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., 1989
This expanded edition published in Penguin Books 1990
Copyright Â© Garrison Keillor, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 All rights reserved
Page 377 constitutes an extension of this copyright page.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
We are still married: stories & letters / Garrison Keillor.
ISBN : 978-1-101-57269-6
To the memory
of my classmate
The Lake Wobegon novels
“[It] had me spraying Diet Coke from my nostrils and scattering popcorn across the carpet in great gusts of mirth.... As sharp and funny a comic novel as any I've read in the '90s.”
âHenry Kisor, Chicago
LAKE WOBEGON DAYS
“A comic anatomy of what is small and ordinary and therefore potentially profound and universal in American life.”
“These monologues hold up as a string of lovely vignettes and memorable portraits... and slowly climb to peaks of quiet hilarity.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Also by Garrison Keillor
THE BOOK OF GUYS
“Marvelous stuff from the funniest American writer still open for business.”
HAPPY TO BE HERE
“Cerebral and complex, a blend of romance and nostalgia; it sparklingly parodies the American (and human) condition.... His stories and satires glow with a sense of time and place.”
The Washington Post
WE ARE STILL MARRIED
“The shock, for a radio fan leafing through this collection, is to discover, perhaps not for the first or fifth time, that his hero is even more gifted as writer than as entertainer.”
WLT: A RADIO ROMANCE
“A praise-song to old-time radio.... It's the wicked brother of
A Prairie Home Companion.
A real lollapalooza.”
My parents think I'm crazy,
My kids think I'm bourgeoisâ
My true love thinks I'm wonderful,
The handsomest she ever saw,
And who am I to disagree
With one so sensible as she?
There's a lot to be said for lack of communication and so many problems we can't talk about simply go away after a while, such as the problem of mortality, for example, but a writer's duty is to keep trying, to wake up every afternoon and saddle up the mare and bear the sacred
plume de literature
over the next ridge, and here, to show I've been on the job and not just sunning myself in Denmark, is a book, collecting in one neat pile some stories, poems, and letters mostly written at the time of Ronald Reagan, the President who never told bad news to the American people.
I've written for
The New Yorker
since I was in high school, though they weren't aware of it at the time, and many of these stories first appeared there; most of the letters in Section 3 appeared there, unsigned, in “The Talk of the Town.” When I first met up with the magazine, I was thirteen, sitting in the periodicals room at the Minneapolis Public Library, surrounded by ruined old men collapsed in the big oak chairs, who I took to be retired teachers. I read Talk as the voice of inexhaustible youth, charged with curiosity and skepticism, dashing around the big city at a slow crawl, and tried to imitate its casual worldly tone, which, for a boy growing up in the potato fields of Brooklyn Park township, was a hard row to hoe, but I tried. The magazine was studded with distinguished men of initials, including E.B., A.J., S.J., E.J., J.F., and J.D., so I signed myself G. E. Keillor for a while, hoping lightning would strike. The summer after college I hitched a ride to New York and got a room in a boardinghouse on West 20th next door to a convent and walked up to
The New Yorker
on West 43rd to apply for a job as a Talk reporter. I was twenty-three, had a faceful of beard and long hair, and was dazed with ambition. There were plenty of exclusive clubs on 43rd and 44th, including the Harvard, Princeton, New York Yacht, and Century, but only one worth trying for, in my eyes, and I took the elevator up and tried. A woman named Patricia Mosher talked with me for an hour. She was friendly and encouraging, and sent me home to write more, which I've been doing ever since. Three years later, I got a letter from Roger Angell at
The New Yorker
buying a story of mine and sat down on the front steps of my house and enjoyed his three or four lovely paragraphs two or three dozen times. I felt grateful that my life would not be completely wasted. Over the years, Roger turned out to be a tireless editor, and a great coach, telling me how much the magazine
me, hoping I'd become one of his starters, a cleanup humorist, and only gradually did he come to accept me for who I am, a tall serious man with a knack for the long pause, slow to write and easily distracted, whose association with the magazine has been modest, if undistinguished. In 1971 I became the first writer
its history to have his name misspelled on a byline (Kiellor), and a few years later I wrote the story “Don: The True Story of a Younger Person,” which contains a quintuple interior quote, a quote of a quote of a quote of a quote of a quote, the deepest interior quote ever published there, I guess. You could look it up. In 1974, having written a piece about the Grand Ole Opry, I became one of the few writers in
annals to try to live the life I had written about, when I started “A Prairie Home Companion.” Mark Singer did not open a bank after writing
nor did Calvin Trillin buy a rib joint with the proceeds of
Alice, Let's Eat.
Yes, I am aware of Roger Angell's pinch-hit appearance (7/12/49) at the Polo Grounds, a long poke off the bat handle that scooted into the left-field corner under the Macy's clock and caromed off the groundskeeper's roller for a skinny triple, driving in one run, and that's why I said I was one of the “few”âPauline Kael, who directed Joanne Woodward and John Wayne in
is another, but you look at that picture, you can't help but feel the sparks flying between the stars and you see how precise and single-minded and
the camera is, and you wonder, “Why couldn't she just let those two loose?” And Roger's hit, in any other ballpark, would've been a double, except in Fenway, where it would've been foul.