(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The subtitle of Leaving Home forthrightly announces the nature of the volume: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories. Keillor had already performed each of the thirty-six stories as a monologue on A Prairie Home Companion. He announces at the beginning of the book that the stories have been altered somewhat from their original form.

The book’s title may be ambiguous. Some of the characters in the stories do leave home; others would like to, or dream of doing so. Still, the reader is tempted to apply the title to the author as much as to his characters. Keillor chooses to begin his book with the text of a song he sometimes sang on A Prairie Home Companion—the lament of an absent Wobegonian who longs to see the old hometown one more time.

This is followed by an introduction, “A Letter from Copenhagen,” dated July 3, 1987. Keillor muses therein about leaving behind one’s homeland and all that is familiar and also reminds the reader that he has left his radio show after thirteen years. Lake Wobegon came to life each week within the twenty-minute monologue which was the centerpiece of the show. Was Leaving Home the author’s last, long good-bye to Lake Wobegon? Two years later, his next book would contain only 66 pages of Lake Wobegon material out of a total of 330, and his new radio shows would feature no Lake Wobegon segment. However, in the years to follow, Keillor would be drawn back to Lake Wobegon material for both his fiction and his broadcasts.


(The entire section is 628 words.)