We Are Still Married

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Anyone attempting to review the latest effort by the champion of “shy people” everywhere faces a daunting task indeed. Garrison Keillor, true to the Scandinavian traditions of his early years, has produced a veritable smorgasbord, some items of which will appeal to one literary taste, some to another; few readers will find all the selections satisfactory.

WE ARE STILL MARRIED is divided neatly into sections, consisting of parodies and sketches, new additions to the Lake Wobegon canon, “letters” to unnamed individuals on a variety of subjects, poetry, and short stories. Some of these pieces celebrate the virtues of small-town life in the manner which devotees of Keillor’s radio program have come to expect, whereas others will undoubtedly appeal to those who devour each issue of THE NEW YORKER as it appears--although the two groups are not necessarily exclusive.

While individual compositions may be alternately boring, incomprehensible, or just a tad too cute for words, others will amuse, enlighten, and provide a profound insight which is all the more amazing because it appears so self-evident in retrospect. Moreover, few people are capable of turning a phrase with the degree of facility exhibited by Keillor. Thus, the careful reader will discover that whereas young people today find it very easy to “cross over into the land of bliss” (that is, gain sexual experience) the situation in Keillor’s youth was such that “the river was wide and deep and fast and the church owned the boats.”