Love Me

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Larry Wyler’s writing ambitions are fulfilled when, on the strength of one best-selling novel, he is invited to join the New Yorker. Eager to seize his opportunity, he leaves his wife, a dedicated Democrat and defender of the disadvantaged, in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the big city. For a while he revels in the high life, hobnobbing with famous writers and indulging in liberal amounts of alcohol and sex, before his literary gift deserts him. As if struggling with writer’s block is not enough, he discovers that his revered New Yorker is in fact owned by a Mafia-type gangster by the name of Tony Crossandotti. Eventually, Larry manages to land a job back in Minnesota as an advice columnist for a St. Paul newspaper. As “Mr. Blue,” he doles out advice to the lovelorn, the despairing, and the crazy. Finally, Larry learns what is really important in his life, returning to his wife just in time to appreciate the values of time-tested love, family, and community.

Garrison Keillor’s many fans will no doubt enjoy this irreverent romp, which has its full quota of Minnesota jokes, gentle digs at English majors, and wise acceptance of the foibles of humanity. More objective readers may feel that although Love Me does at times manage to be funny, Keillor’s art is essentially that of a miniaturist. He is charmingly at home with the vignette and the anecdote, but the larger canvas of the novel does not suit him quite so well. Love Me struggles to find a balance between realism and fantasy, humor and seriousness, with the result that Larry Wyler never becomes an entirely believable or sympathetic character.

Review Sources

Booklist 99, no. 22 (August 1, 2003): 1926.

Library Journal 128, no. 15 (September 15, 2003): 92.

The New York Review of Books 50, no. 17 (November 6, 2003): 60-61.

The New York Times Book Review, August 17, 2003, p. 10.

People 60, no. 9 (September 1, 2003): 52.

Publishers Weekly 250, no. 30 (July 28, 2003): 78.

The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2003, p. W9.