Wednesday, July 03, 2013

A Real American Tragedy

I am currently reading Wobegon Boy by Garrison Keillor. He is a great writer. I love his descriptions and his wit. Every single little blurb about the book on the back cover and the first pages praises it as funny and witty. I, though, would sum up the book with this word: tragic. In this book, Keillor grows out of the small midwestern town he grew up in, with all of its Norwegian Lutheran roots. He goes to New York to become a success. When he goes back home, he finds it beneath him to find any common ground with his sister. He considers her to have thrown away her life when she turned down a scholarship to the university to instead marry the man she loved and help him work his way through seminary. Meanwhile, Keillor's girlfriend back in New York refuses to marry him, and when she tells him that she doesn't know if she even believes in marriage, he is too spineless to say that he disagrees with her. He freely admits that his life has been wasted, but at the same time, he looks down on the people he grew up with as uncultured and uneducated. He never bothers to ask them if they're happy. The book makes me question what I value in life, and that is loving someone and being loved, and sitting on the porch with a glass of iced tea, reading a good book or chatting with a friend. I was telling Mr.M about the height of conceit of the author, and he asked me why I kept reading the book. I likened it to going for a hike, when you start getting tired and hot but you feel compelled to keep going because there might be an amazing view around the next bend; and then you get to that next bend and there is nothing special about it, but you think the next bend might be something special . . . and so on and so on. I keep waiting to see if Keillor's ever going to see his hypocrisy and arrogance for what it is. I want to see if he'll realize his definition of success caused him to waste so much of his life when he could have been happy.

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