TORO! :: bull by the horns

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Posts Tagged ‘garrison keillor’

a recent bit from the bard of the cornfields

Posted by rollinsloane on 27 October 2007

Garrison Keillor is increasingly becoming the living embodiment of Americana nostalgia. Raised in the conservative farm country of Heartland Christianity, the writer-humorist-radio host continues to cherish and poke fun at his prim 50s youth. 2002’s Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 is a winning addition to the his on-going chronicles of a fictional small-town Minnesota community, narrated by 14-year-old wannabe writer Gary (author stand-in, much?) whose sexual awakenings/longings/confusion reads like a pint-size Philip Roth.






This little snippet is the teenage poetry of narrator Gary’s beloved cousin Kate, a rebel against the sexual restrictions of her religious family. It’s a simple bit, but we here at TORO! believe in preservation at even the smallest level. There’s some concluding narrative to give a dose of Keillor’s wry voice.


death is easy like taking a bath
with an electric fan and waving hello to god
you could die like walking in front of a bus
or jumping into the big blue air or into the lake
or doing almost anything
you could die by living in minnesota
and forgetting your scarf
or remembering your scarf and it catches on the axle and strangles you
god is love but
he doesn’t necessarily drop
everything and go save you
does he

Miss Lewis was horrified. She told Kate she was a very sick girl. She sent the poem home to my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Sugar, and it scared them silly. How could Kate say such crazy things? And putting an electric fan in the bath? Where did she come up with something so grisly? And why wasn’t god capitalized?

“It’s only a poem,” said Kate. She pointed out that a soliloquy is a speech to one’s self and that it wasn’t her talking, it was the person in the poem. Nonetheless, Sugar hustled around and locked up all the knives and razor blades and small electric appliances, and hid the rope and the garden hose.



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