Boom Town: A Lake Wobegon Novel by Garrison Keillor

Boom Town: A Lake Wobegon Novel by Garrison Keillor

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With Boom Town, Garrison Keillor returns to his hometown of Lake Wobegon, which is in the midst of a rising economic tide driven by millennial
entrepreneurs. “I go back home mainly for funerals, which these days are for people my age, 79, which gets my attention, an obituary with my number in it,” he writes, as he sits at the bedside of Arlene Bunsen dying with humor and grace, and recalls a teenage love affair with Marlys Gunderson and observes the millennial culture, a stark contrast to the Lutheran farm town of the radio monologues. He spends the summer in the old Gunderson lake cabin, reliving the past, postponing his return to New York and his wife Giselle.

Garrison Keillor wrote Boom Town during the pandemic lockdown in New York,
reading drafts of it to his wife, Jenny, sitting across the room. He did parts of the book in monologues for audiences in Boston, New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Virginia, along with the story of how, in the 8th grade, his shop teacher Orville Buehler, worried about the boy’s carelessness with the power saw, sent him up to LaVona Person’s speech class, thus changing his life. Keillor says, “For many people, the key to success is discipline and education, but for me, it was ineptitude with power tools.”

His twice-weekly columns appear on Substack (

“Keillor’s laughs come dear, not cheap, emerging from shared virtue and good character, from reassuring us of our neighborliness and strength. . . . His true subject is how daily life is shot with grace. Keillor writes a prose that can be turned to laughter, to tears . . . to compassion or satire, to a hundred effects. He is a brilliant parodist.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“One of the things that makes him popular is that he doesn’t seem so
very different himself from the parallel-world Minnesotans whose lives
he describes with such forlorn fondness. They are judged not from above,
but from the side, in a way that seems neighbourly.” —The Guardian