It takes a natural storyteller to hold a nation's worth of public radio listeners' attention each week for 30-plus years. It takes an exceptionally talented storyteller to hold that attention by talking about a fictional hamlet in rural Minnesota. Garrison Keillor is such a storyteller. With his books about Lake Wobegon and stories on NPR's long-running radio program A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor makes even the most committed urbanite long for the simplicity and communal atmosphere of a small town among cornfields. Keillor has been writing about Lake Wobegon in novels since 1985, captivating readers along the way with humor ranging from sweet to raunchy to genuine, identifiable characters getting tangled up in storylines sometimes as addictive as soap operas. Liberty, the latest tale of Wobegon, is centered on the hapless Clint Bunsen. After being booted from his role as chairman of the Fourth of July celebration planning committee for being wildly successful but rubbing people the wrong way, Bunsen's life begins to change in dramatic ways. He strikes up an affair, discovers that he is not pureblooded Norwegian, but in fact one-half Spanish, and ponders a run at a seat in Congress. Keillor again nails the high jinks that keep readers coming back for more country-spun tales.
Mon., Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m., 2008