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The Book of Guys: Stories by Garrison…

The Book of Guys: Stories (original 1994; edition 1994)

by Garrison Keillor

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Title:The Book of Guys: Stories
Authors:Garrison Keillor (Author)
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (1994), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Tags:American authors, Garrison Keillor, humor, memoir, short stories, Episcopalian authors, University of Minnesota alumni, 20th Century, male authors, literature, Protestant authors, fiction

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The Book of Guys by Garrison Keillor (1994)



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The Book of Guys by Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is surely best known for his multifaceted role with "Prairie Home Companion," the long-running NPR show. Material created for the show—for example, the letters from Lake Woebegone—has been collected into books. [The Book of Guys] is a 1993 collection of short stories written primarily for The New Yorker.

A bought a jacket-less hardcover edition at a library sale, figuring it was cheap and would be good light reading. I alternated reading chapters in [The Red and the Black] and [The House of Mirth] with stories in this book. Between meal snacks, so to speak. Ease to read, no heavy intellectual lifting, many chuckles.

My mind's ear heard many of these stories being read/performed on PHC. "Lonesome Shorty" is one:

The summer before last, I was headed for Billings on my horse Old Dan, driving two hundred head of the ripest-smelling longhorns you ever rode downwind of, when suddenly here come some tumbleweeds tumbling along with a newspaper stuck inside—I had been without news for weeks so I leaned down and snatched it up and read it trotting along, though the front page was missing and all there was was columnists and the Lifestyle section, so bouncing along in a cloud of manure I read an article entitled "43 Fabulous Salads to Freshen Up Your Summertime Table" which made me wonder if my extreme lonesomeness might not be the result of diet. Maybe I'm plumb loco, but a cowboy doesn't get much fiber and he eats way too much beef. You herd cattle all day, you come to despise them, and pretty soon, by jingo, you have gone and shot one, and then you must eat it, whilst all those cattle tromping around on the greens takes away your taste for salads, just like when you arrive at a creek and see that cattle have tromped in the water and drunk from it and crapped in it, it seems to turn a man toward whiskey.

I thought to myself, Shorty, you've got to get out of this cowboy life. I mentioned this to my partner, old Eugene, and he squinted at me and said, "Eeyup."

There's some verse, such as "Casey at the Bat (Road Game)", with Casey playing for the visiting team. For those of us who remember when George H. W. Bush was president, Keillor imagines him dealing with an invasion of Chicago by "hordes of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Hloths, Wendells, and Vandals." He has fun bringing Greek gods up to date in "Zeus the Lutheran" and "The Mid-life Crisis of Dionysus."

…He heard the unmistakable clip-clomp-clomp of the sensible shoes of the Muse of maturity, Gladys, clambering up the steps, clipboard in hand, knapsack on her back, wearing a frumpy brown dress with sweat stains under the arms. She blew a hard tweet on her whistle and cried, "Climb off that girl, Gramps, and put down the beverage. And brace yourself for a major news item," and then she broke it to him hard. He was fifty. Fifty years old.

Dionysus sat up—"What?" he said, letting go of the supple young woman. "Fifty. Ha! I'm immortal! Ageless! You can look it up!"
  weird_O | Oct 3, 2015 |
I have the same sort of affection for this book and its subject as I have for The Lonely Guy's Book of Life by Bruce Jay Friedman--though they're very different in their styles. The illustration on the cover is priceless. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Jan 24, 2015 |
This book is a great example of why I have a non-sexual crush on Garrison Keillor. He's a wonderful writer! ( )
  ratastrophe | Aug 21, 2014 |
I did not enjoy this. You know the scene in Roxane with Steve Martin, where he comes up with twenty jokes about big noses? That is what this feels like, without the laughs. Someone came up to Garrison Keillor with a list of off the wall categories and said "Write a story about guys, one for each topic." Some of the stories are clever, but mostly, it just portrays guys as oafs. As an oaf of a guy, I can appreciate the humor in that, but it got old fast. I enjoy many of Garrison Keillor's works, and think that he is a great storyteller, but I did not really enjoy this. ( )
1 vote ASBiskey | Feb 22, 2011 |
Not a bad light read but somehow these stories are neither silly enough nor serious enough to get more than an occasional smile and three stars out of me. ( )
  awssu | Jan 4, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067084943X, Hardcover)

A loosely affiliated collection of pieces culled from Harper's and the New Yorker, The Book of Guys supplies Garrison Keillor's brand of pathos-inspired belly laughs in great measure. Since Keillor is not only, by all appearances, a mensch but also the possessor of an extremely amiable voice in his writing (and who can say, with him, where his prose voice ends and the aural one begins?), you tend to forget the darker elements of his work. In fact, those are the things that make his writing so amusing.

The Book of Guys parades a collection of Joe Nobodies, average guys like Garry Keillor, "sixteen, six foot two, with the metabolism of a wolverine." But these are guys with a darker side: longings, misgivings, psychoses. There's Lonesome Shorty, the cowboy who lusts for town life, but as soon as he settles down, the trail calls him again. Or the mayor of Zenith, who has everything a man could want, his life darkened solely by a senseless vendetta carried out by the editor of the local newspaper. "I have spent thirty minutes [writing this letter to the Editor] and my wife, her black hair tumbling over her bare shoulders touched with freckles under the pale-blue gossamer negligee hanging light as a leaf on her pale breasts and bold etcetera..." But Keillor's guys are too preoccupied with everyday angst to take hold of their good fortune. "In a minute, dear," says the mayor, continuing his screed.

The Book of Guys doesn't give one much faith in the future of male-dom, but it is funny. And don't let the paucity of competition fool you; Keillor's a humorist par excellence, a fine, thoughtful, and witty writer. --Michael Gerber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this collection of stories you'll meet a bunch of memorable guys including Lonesome Shorty, a cowpoke torn between the proud life in the saddle and the comforts of warm apartments and women; Buddy the teen-age leper in Sioux Falls; Earl Grey the great tea inventor and former Republican child; Casey at the bat in Mudville again; Dionysus the god of wine; and Roy Bradley, boy broadcaster. Brilliantly funny, touching, and acute, The book of guys reveals the perilous situation of guys today.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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