“Ah, it’s a hard life for we writerly types,” typed an especially writerly type. “Day in, day out, we suffer the multitudinous whims of our tautologically whimsical muses, butting against buttressed blocks, contemplating plagiarism but never giving in to it (honest), never knowing if our insights will be well-received — or even if they’ll be received at all — and then, to top it all, we find out that, in literary circles, a favourite author just isn’t cool. And people wonder why Hemingway blew his brains out!”
Joking aside, it’s quite a while since I actually gave a flying fig what the literary establishment thinks. It must have been… oh, around the time I stopped reading Julian Barnes and the eternally glum Martin Amis. I try not to measure my likes and dislikes by the prejudiced posturing of others. That said, it’s always interesting to see just how out-of-step one can be where favourite fiction is concerned — and with that in mind, I offer for your consideration the first of my favourite “Uncool Authors”, Mr. Garrison Keillor.
Midwestern broadcaster and writer, Keillor’s work has always been something of an oddity in my book collection — not typical, but all the more valuable because of this. His trademark laconic style was a breath of fresh air when I first discovered him and it has largely remained that way ever since. I couldn’t read him every day, but I consider him a necessary antidote to the Twenty-First Century. When I read him, I’m very much aware that this particular version of the American Midwest may not actually exist, except in Keillor’s mind. Or maybe it does. It doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t want to live there, either way, because, for me, it’s the very ordinary oddness of his work that I enjoy — and this is something that can best be appreciated only as a “visitor”. So I visit, but only ever take an overnight bag.
It’s what I do instead of listening to The Archers.