Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas Blizzard: Garrison Keillor

If you know who Garrison Keillor is then you already know that he is a tall-tale-teller. It is believed that most of his stories are based in some sort of fact, but he has exaggerated and embellished to the point of tall-tale standards. He is a bit like the grandfather at family gatherings who starts stories with phrases like “When I was your age, back in 1931…”, and then he goes on to tell an unbelievable tale that usually ends with some sort of moral or lesson along the lines of “…and I never stole from Old Barnaby’s garden again after that, so let that be a lesson to you!” His non-Woebegone holiday novel, A Christmas Blizzard is everything we expect from Keillor.

James Sparrow is a wealthy man who lives with his wife in a 12 room apartment on the 55th floor of Wabasha Tower in Chicago. He is a multimillionaire with odd eccentricities, like his fear of metal water pump handles. On the brink of the Christmas holiday, James and his wife make plans to celebrate on the warm Hawaiian beaches of their second home in Kuhikuhikapapa’u’maumau. At the last minute, James’ wife becomes ill and he gets a phone call from a family member in Looseleaf, North Dakota, informing him that his beloved uncle is on his death bed. James makes the decision to make a quick trip back to his despised hometown to say goodbye to uncle Earl, only to find himself trapped in Looseleaf by a blizzard. What ensues is one of Keillor’s tall tales of family, redemption, and humor.

Keillor has the ability to spin tales that aren’t quite wholly believable, but are also so wonderful that you hope every detail is true. It seems impossible that cooky cousin Faye would shed her clothes in below freezing temperatures and jump into an ice fishing hole; yet, we all have a family member who seems just crazy enough to attempt it. And while we may have never spoken with a wolf who claims to be the soul of a dear departed friend, it’s not hard to believe that we sometimes encounter animals who assure us with their nature that our loved one is safe and happy in the afterlife.

A Christmas Blizzard is a thoroughly enjoyable holiday novel and a quick read, from a wonderful story teller who reminds us to be grateful for what have and to never forget where we came from.

1 comment:

  1. Another great review! What other Christmas stories are you going to read?