THAT TIME OF YEAR: A Minnesota Life by Garrison Keillor (Arcade Publishing, 372 pp., $30)
Garrison Keillor has been holed up in Manhattan during the pandemic, but he left his heart in the Twin Cities. His first memoir, "That Time of Year: A Minnesota Life," has its fair share of juicy tidbits about the often reclusive author, but he's more passionate about honoring his homeland than looking inward.
He makes local landmarks like Al's Breakfast and Northrop auditorium seem as Americana as Mount Rushmore, though reflections on fellow Minnesotans aren't always kind. As he did in his book of limericks, released last year, he takes a swipe at Bob Dylan, attacking his lyrics as "gaseous emanations of sensibility."
He saves his sharpest attacks for his former employer, Minnesota Public Radio.He labels Minnesota Public Radio reporters as members of the sleepiest newsroom in town, jealous of the success of "A Prairie Home Companion." His bitterness clearly stems from the way MPR management and the press handled accusations that he had behaved inappropriately at work, which led to a dismissal and his reputation taking a major hit.
Keillor sees the incident as being "hung out to dry for a mutual email flirtation" and doesn't go into much more detail than that.He's much more open about his two previous marriages, taking his fair share of blame for their failures. But self-analysis has never been Keillor's forte.
Readers may laugh aloud when "That Time of Year" looks back at the early days of "A Prairie Home Companion," peculiar fan encounters and the making of the Robert Altman film of his radio show (check out his mixed feelings about Long Islander Lindsay Lohan).
Are those tales as amusing as the best of the "Lake Wobegon" novels? Probably not, but die-hard fans will treasure stories with Keillor as the central character, rather than trying to discover him behind that Guy Noir mask.