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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon by Garrison…
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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon (2007)

by Garrison Keillor

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Pontoon begins with the death of an elderly woman living in Lake Wobegon. It ends with the woman's memorial service, and in between the reader catches a glimpse of various happenings in the town, many of them centering around her daughter & her coping mechanisms following her mother's death.

I think the jury is still out regarding my feelings for Garrison Keillor's writing. This is my second read of his, both having been on audio. While for the most part I enjoy the way he can expand on seemingly normal little snapshots of people's lives, his voice can also at times drone on and on & almost put the reader to sleep. The details are nice, but sometimes I think he tends to go too far off track & then I find my mind wandering. But then just when that begins to happen, he will say something so funny, in such a deadpan voice, that I laugh out loud. Lots of references to the Lutherans in this one, which I can relate to, being one myself. Overall, I tend to enjoy his writing, but I think maybe short stories as opposed to novels might be the way to go -- for me, at least. ( )
  indygo88 | Nov 19, 2014 |
I started this book as we drove home from a post-retirement trip to Louisiana knowing that we would be going through Minnesota at some point. Little did I realize how appropriate my choice of reading material was. Shortly after we headed west from Minneapolis I saw a sign for Lake Wobegon Trail and I realized that we were driving right through the area that Keillor writes about.

I've heard Keillor a few times and so I could imagine his voice as I read this book. His counterpart in Canada, Stuart McLean, has the same sort of style. Both of them are probably better listened to than read but once you have heard them enough times you can transplant their laconic delivery to the written page.

The book starts with the death of Evelyn in Lake Wobegon which occurred just as she had wished, suddenly in her bed after an evening of good food and laughs with good friends. Her death affects many other people in Lake Wobegon but perhaps no-one as much as her daughter Barbara who discovered her body. Barbara has been drinking too much and letting her house go but with the death of her mother she has an epiphany. She learns her mother had a lover that she would go away on trips with but she never let anyone know. The lover, Raoul, was her boyfriend in 1941 but then he was called away to service and she married someone else. They reconnected when they were in their 60s and had a wonderful time together. Barbara decides that she will learn from this to enjoy her life but do it openly.

The end of the book is given over to Evelyn's memorial service which is as outlandish as you can imagine and then some. It takes place on the lake and involves pontoon boats, parasails, hot air balloons, odiferous dogs etc. It's worth reading the book just to get to that chapter. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 6, 2014 |
Like the radio program better. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
I enjoyed this book. It was the best of the Prairie Home Companion - the stories of the people in Lake Woebegone. It makes me want to listen to his other books.
  jlapac | Aug 14, 2013 |
I was somewhat disappointed in this book. I found it rather depressing. ( )
  | Jul 14, 2013 | edit |
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Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670063568, Hardcover)

In his fourth Lake Wobegon novel, Garrison Keillor returns to the little town that time forgot.

The fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon is real to millions of A Prairie Home Companion fans, who tune in each week for the latest news about its strong women and good-looking men. Like Sinclair Lewis's Gopher Prairie, it is part of literary legend. Four novels have been set among its quiet streets: Lake Wobegon Days, Wobegon Boy, Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, and now Pontoon.

Garrison Keillor's latest book is about the wedding of a girl named Dede Ingebretson, who comes home from California with a guy named Brent. Dede has made a fortune in veterinary aromatherapy; Brent bears a strong resemblance to a man wanted for extortion who's pictured on a poster in the town's post office. Then there's the memorial service for Dede's aunt Evelyn, who led a footloose and adventurous life after the death of her husband. Add a surprise boyfriend and a band of newly arrived Mormon missionaries, and the gently rendered chaos is complete.

Full of richly drawn characters, sly wit, and indelible descriptions of everyday life in the heartland, Pontoon is another unforgettable portrait of the little town we love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:17 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In Lake Wobegon lives a good Lutheran lady who is quite prepared to die and wishes to be cremated and her ashes placed inside a bowling ball and dropped into the lake, no prayers, no hymns, thank you very much. Meanwhile, the Detmer girl returns from California where she has made a killing in veterinary aromatherapy to marry her boyfriend Brent aboard Wally's pontoon boat, presided over by her minister, Misty Naylor of the Sisterhood of the Sacred Spirit. Brent arrives on Thursday. On Saturday, a delegation of renegade Lutheran pastors from Denmark come to town on their tour of America, their punishment for having denied the divinity of Jesus. And Barbara Peterson, whose mother, Evelyn, left the startling note about cremation and the bowling ball, is in love with a lovely fat man who slips around town in the dim light and reconnoiters with her at the Romeo Mote." "And then there is Raoul of the cigars and tinted shades and rainbow sportcoat and his long phone message ("Hey, Precious") after the angel of death has already come and gone." "All is in readiness for the wedding - the giant shrimp shish kebabs, the French champagne, the wheels of imported cheese, the pate with whole peppercorns, the hot-air balloon, the flying Elvis, the pontoon boat, and the giant duck decoys - and then something else happens." "It is Lake Wobegon as you've imagined it - good loving people who drive each other slightly crazy."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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