Garrison Keillor, Life Among the Lutherans, 2009.
A collection of short pieces, some of the tales and anecdotes in this book are familiar and others are obscure. Many will know “The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra” and “Pontoon Boat”, but “Ministers’ Retreat” and “Lorraine Turnblad’s Tombstone” are far less well known. Each story has its particular Woebegon-ian charm, and it’s an enjoyable book. My sole complaint is that, aside from Woebegon and/or vague references to Lutherans, the book suffers from a lack of organization: it’s not structured, even moving through seasons, and so it really is a book to pick up at discrete intervals. The reader is left only with a sense of the milieu, both of Lake Woebegon and, to a lesser extent, of the midwestern Lutheran mores of which Keillor is the principal hagiographer (or idolater?). It’s an enjoyable read, marked principally by moments of quiet hopefulness about the capacity (too rarely reached) of humans to offer and receive love in meaningful ways.