Garrison Keillor American Literature Analysis
With the publication of his third book, Lake Wobegon Days, Keillor was crowned the new Mark Twain. He has consistently disavowed the epithet, insisting that he has no such grand illusions about his work. He has turned the comparison aside with a jest by remarking that the Eastern literary establishment considers any humorist from west of Eighth Avenue the new Mark Twain.
Still, the comparison is understandable. Keillor, like Twain, is the product of a small town in middle America. Twain’s best work features the mighty Mississippi River, which he had known intimately from boyhood, and off and on for years Keillor’s popular broadcasts have emanated from St. Paul, Minnesota, on the banks of the Mississippi. For The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Twain created the idyllic river town of St. Petersburg, and Keillor portrays life in the mythical hamlet of Lake Wobegon. Like Twain, Keillor is at his best in the short story or sketch, and his long works, like Twain’s, are often a stringing together of such shorter pieces. Both men eventually moved to the East after making their reputations in the West (although Keillor eventually returned to Minnesota). In the latter stages of their careers, both men became more satirical in their treatment of the politics of their day. Some of these parallels are superficial, others less so. It can be said, at least, that Keillor follows in the tradition...
(The entire section is 5312 words.)
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