Sunday, July 9, 2017
Dear Garrison Keillor
Dear Garrison Keillor:
This is a fan letter. But possibly more the "Cease and desist" type than the "Oh, isn't that nice!" type.
C., who I sometimes work with at the library, is a writer, and a few other things. He's deeply involved in the Twin Cities Arts community, and the Democratic Party, and, to tell you the truth I don't know what he's up to, but he knows a lot of people. But I'm sorry to report that he doesn't like you.
I curiously meet a lot of people who don't like you.
I'm not one of them. I ran into you with my wife, in the foyer of your bookstore. You sort of held the door for us in passing. I mean, what's not to like?
I said to C., who I quite like, as an aside to something we were talking about last week, referring to you, "Yeah, but sometimes he can be an incredibly good writer."
C. seemed surprised by this. Like such an idea never occurred to him. Look at this, a person, C., immersed in writing and the arts for more than 30 years, hailing from your very own hometown, Anoka, then moving to the same town you moved to, and yet the idea that you're an indisputably excellent writer was a completely new idea to him, not exactly outrageous or in dispute, merely foreign, baffling, like a response to "Bob Dylan has a good voice", or "Half the time Jane Austen is just making fun of people", or "Not reading clerkmanifesto regularly is a kind of nihilism and cowardice."
"Wait. What's clerkmanifesto?" You ask.
This! This is clerkmanifesto! Get on board!
Anyway, C. found the idea of you as a great writer so alien that it stuck in my brain, undigested, until, a week later I saw a quote of yours on the back of a book of poetry by Louis Jenkins. and not only did I think it was a terrific little quote, but it reminded me that I have read, or heard, something of yours on hundreds of different occasions and thought it was terrific.
So if I think you're a terrific, sagacious, wise, and funny writer, what's wrong with everyone else?
I don't think people like humorists. Oh, they like comedians, and they're wild about humorists when the humorists are being serious, but they don't really like humorists being humorists. It's because humorists have a troubling propensity for telling the truth, but they're always being so damn sneaky about it.
How else are you supposed to do it?
Anyway, I like to tell myself all this when I think about how I have 12 readers instead of 12 million. And I don't mind thinking it either when someone says to me "I don't really like Garrison Keillor. I saw him backstage somewhere and he didn't smile at me."
So I thought I'd share it with you, in case you had any doubts.
Warmly, and with respect,