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Keillor writes: "People are suffering around us and I know it. A long talk with an old friend who is isolated at home alone and he launches into a long story that doesn't seem to have a point or an end, and then he admits he's not seen anybody for a week."

Garrison Keillor on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, near his bookstore Common Good Books in 2014. (photo: Jean Pieri/Pioneer Press)
Garrison Keillor on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, near his bookstore Common Good Books in 2014. (photo: Jean Pieri/Pioneer Press)


The News From Manhattan: Friday, May 22, 2020

By Garrison Keillor, Garrison Keillor's Website

23 May 20


I love to meet people on Zoom,
You can speak very boldly, ka-boom,
Be frank, let her blow,
Forty minutes or so,
Then sweep them away with a broom.
I pick up a cellphone and talk
For half an hour as I walk,
And I exercise
While I socialize,
I’m an intellect and I’m a jock.

day of triumph for Jenny yesterday — she baked bread and it came out beautifully. She was haunted by old bread-baking failures and intimidated by her Swedish grandma’s baking, but finally broke through and now her self-esteem has risen a notch. I used to fly around the country doing shows and staying in nice hotels and now, thanks to the plague, I get to observe my true love close up. She’s a reader, a musician, a woman with many close friends, an art lover, but the other day she admitted to me that she loves a clean kitchen. She loves to cook. The bread-baking was a big challenge and she was proud that she succeeded. My staunch urban feminist wife has secret hausfrau leanings. We’ve had cleaning ladies forever but she takes pride in her ability to clean a bathroom floor and do it very very well. I should not be divulging this to you and if you tell her I will never speak to you again and I will put your name into my novel in a way you’ll regret. Loose lips sink ships.

People are suffering around us and I know it. A long talk with an old friend who is isolated at home alone and he launches into a long story that doesn’t seem to have a point or an end, and then he admits he’s not seen anybody for a week and his mind is “going wild” — news that a high-school classmate and good friend is in an old-folks warehouse in Minneapolis, penniless, with signs of dementia, and what can one do? She was a small-town intellectual and a good person and now she’s going into the dark for the long goodbye. An old friend went into that dark last week. I’d known her since 1976 and she was lively and sassy and full of enthusiasm and I saw her a year ago and she was friendly but she had no idea who I am. Now she’s gone. I’m at an age when part of one’s day is taken up with mourning. It’s just how it is.

The novel is whistling along and September is the pub date and I’m thinking maybe in spring 2021 I can get back to doing shows so that leaves a gap of six months that I need to plan for. This Wobegon novel has been so much fun, I should write another. Maybe Donald J. Trump moves to town. He got drubbed in November and his empire crashed in the recession and he’s under threat of prosecution from a dozen eager lawmen and people are writing vicious salacious memoirs about him and he comes to the Little Town That Time Forgot to be forgotten and gets a job pumping gas and is completely happy in a cabin by the lake. He takes up fishing. He gardens. His problem is that his father was born before he was and his father left him all that money and put him in a bewildering NY social circle and LW is what he was meant for. He becomes a nice guy. He gains quite a bit of weight. He stops coloring his hair. He changes his name to Danny Trondheim. He’s unrecognizable as a former POTUS but he confesses to me, his confidante. He is who he is, forgetful, small-minded, vain, but he makes a good gas jockey. He has no regrets because his memory is poor. He loves being a nobody, it’s what he was meant for.

Time for Morning Prayer. Today is Friday. Make it good.

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