Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956 - Garrison Keillor I first discovered Garrison Keillor while milking cows in Minnesota in 1972. He had a morning radio show and without fail played "Help, Help Me Rhonda" every single day his show was on. It became a kind of joke. But it was a fun show to help pass the time while having manure swished in my face. Ever since, I've been a devotee of the Lake Wobegon section of his current radio show (can't stand most of the music, so now I get just the Wobegon section as a podcast.) They are a delight, as is this quasi-autobiographical set of memories recounted by Gary who is obsessed with the illicit magazine, High School Orgies (you know the one with the two teachers, unable to control their mutual lust, doing it in the library.) And the time when the principal was speaking to the class and let one rip that had to be absolutely the most vile and smelly fart ever, causing our Gary to giggle, whereupon he was asked what was so funny, and he had the temerity to tell them it was because of the fart. The teacher is livid and then there is the conversation with Mother. (One should always have a clean backup joke for just such occasions.)

Gary learned he had a talent for writing and discovered he could fend off the local bullies, (who had a cumulative IQ of about 12) by writing salacious poetry, or puns on the order of "Anne of Green Buggers," or "Buggers in the Willows," -- you get the idea.

I loved the scenes with The Sister haranguing his father to get Gary to dry the dishes when, as everyone knows, water evaporates, so why dry them, is Gary's strategy. Meanwhile, Gary is reading High School Orgies on the swing on the front porch, having it hidden in the P volume of the encyclopedia, a gift from a relative who gave a different volume from a set of the encyclopedia to each relative for Christmas. (This was a tactic my mother used. For Christmas one year, she game me volume one of Montaigne's essays -- in French -- and volume two to my brother. In high school Montaigne was not high on my reading list, but you get the idea.)

The book is an affectionate, mocking look at a conservative small town in the Midwest during the fifties. It did bring back some memories. (I hid my copy of Fanny Hill under a loose floorboard in the third floor bathroom.) It's not Keillor's best effort, but entertaining nevertheless.

Note: If you are a sanctimonious prick you will probably not enjoy this book. It has its share of scatological and masturbatory references. There is no plot. Get over it.