Happy to be Here

With the hum of a cafe all around we sat at our circle table, happy to be here there, enjoying some good old-fashioned read-alouds.  For me, this book was a little hard to wade through.  But it stretched my comfort-zone of reading and I almost made it to the end.  (I do plan to finish up the last few short stories I missed.)  A few ladies found the book more humorous than others.  A few favorites we discussed were:

Jack Schmidt, Art Administrator
The Slim Graves Show
The Tip-Top Club
My Stepmother, Myself
Your Transit Commission
After a Fall

As it is with most books we read for book club, no matter how much I like or don’t like the book I ALWAYS like it more after book club Thursdays.  Insights I missed, deeper characters and plot than I thought, or finally understanding the humor of Keillor that I just “didn’t get” when reading it on my own are just a few reason I love book club discussions!

When you combine reading great books, a night out with friends (and making new ones!) and talking about something we all have in common is a recipe for success in my cookbook for a good time!

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I have a feeling March will prove to be a full house for “book club Thursday” as we revisit a past popular author and discuss Jane Austen’s Emma on March 8th at 7:00.  Be sure to RSVP to the evite, we might be moving locations if it looks like we’ll have a big crowd.  (If you didn’t get the evite, let me know broadenedhorizonsbookclub {at} gmail {dot} com)

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Happy To Be Here: Discussion Questions

I’m so excited to see you all on Thursday at Paradise Bakery to discuss Garrison Keillor’s Happy To Be Here! Here are some questions to get your minds processing his short stories:
  1. Many of the stories Keillor tells start from a premise or situation that is out of the ordinary or a bit ridiculous (the arts administrator, a radio station that starts in a restaurant to promote its sandwiches). What are some examples of this throughout the book?
  2. What sort of role did the setting play in the stories? Do you think it was important and why?
  3. The stories in the book are divided up in sections with loose threads connecting the stories in each section together. What are some examples of the ways the stories are connected?
  4. In a number of the stories, Keillor makes references to groups of people and the general public. What sort of interactions do various characters in the stories have with the public? Do you think this says anything about Keillor’s own views of people?

See you soon!

(Oh, and next month is Austen again! We’re reading Emma! So go ahead and get your copy and start reading.)

Garrison Keillor, that guy your parents think is funny

Garrison Keillor

Photo from the WikiMedia Commons: Copyright Prairie Home Productions

Garrison (whose real name is actually Gary) Keillor was born in 1942, and he is described as being an “American author, storyteller, humorist and radio personality. His biggest claim to fame is serving as the host of the popular public radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.”

I have memories of riding in the backseat of the car while my family was traveling listening to “A Prairie Home Companion.” I didn’t always get the humor (some things were more funny to a little kid than others), but I always enjoyed listening to Keillor’s storytelling ability (especially during the private eye skits) and hearing the tales of that the fictional town of Lake Wobegone, Minnesota, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” At any rate, my parents thought he was hilarious.

Keillor grew up in the town of Anoka, Minnesota, which in many ways was the inspiration for Lake Wobegone, and graduated from the University of Minnesota. While there, he began his broadcasting career on the student-run radio station that is known today as Radio K. Keillor went on to host a morning radio show on the Minnesota public radio station and also began writing fiction for The New Yorker. Keillor resigned from the morning program for a short time, citing creative differences over musical selection, but returned later that year, and the show was called “A Prairie Home Companion” upon his return.

The show did its first evening broadcast on July 6, 1974 with variety show style in front of a live audience. In addition to his popularity as a radio personality, Keillor has written articles for newspapers and magazines as well as books for children and adults. He’s done voiceover work for commercials and the Ken Burns documentaries The Civil War and Baseball, and he wrote the screenplay for the film, A Prairie Home Companion. In November of 2006, he also opened a bookstore called Common Good Books, G. Keillor, Prop. in St. Paul Minnesota. Keillor has had a long and eclectic career in the broadcasting and writing world, and with 4 million people listening to A Prairie Home Companion each week on more than 600 public radio stations, it’s still going strong.

We’ll be getting together on Thursday, February 9 at 7 p.m. at Paradise Bakery and Café at Hamilton Town Center to discuss Happy to Be Here. Whether you have fond memories of “A Prairie Home Companion” and appreciate Keillor’s style, or can’t understand why your parents think he’s so funny, it’s sure to be a lively discussion. We hope you can join us!

In the meantime: What have you thought of the book and Keillor’s style so far? Have you ever listened to “A Prairie Home Companion,” and if so, what did you think? 

Happy To Be Here

Keeping with our name and purpose statement, you know that we read from a variety of genres. February we’ll be reading a collection of short stories. Hopefully they will bring a smile to your face and maybe even encourage a laugh.

by Garrison Keillor

The work focuses mainly on the everyday lives of ordinary people, especially in Minnesota and North Dakota. Among them are musings about trains, baseball, politics, farming, marriage, and the rights of shy people. (source)

Grab your copy of the book, arrange for that sitter, if needed, and we’ll see you February 9th at Paradise Bakery and Cafe at 7:00pm.