From Publishers Weekly
K eillor's delightful latest addition to the Lake Wobegon series, set in the fictional Minnesota town known to legions of A Prairie Home Companion radio show fans, opens with a typically laconic musing: Evelyn was an insomniac, so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that. The author's storytelling skills come to the fore as he describes Evelyn Peterson, a sprightly 82-year-old whose secret life of romance and adventure is revealed after her death. Her daughter, Barbara, a please-everyone type with a fondness for chocolate liqueur, finds Evelyn dead in bed, and things snowball from there. Debbie Detmer, who made her fortune as an animal therapist for the rich and famous, is planning a grand commitment ceremony (on a pontoon boat in Lake Wobegon) to celebrate her relationship with a private jet time-share salesman. Meanwhile, Barbara plans to carry out her mother's wishes for a cremation ceremony involving a bowling ball filled with her ashes, and then there's the group of Danish Lutheran ministers stopping by Lake Wobegon on their tour of the U.S. Keillor's longtime fans may find some of the material familiar (he notes he's told this story several hundred times... with many variations), but there's plenty of fun to be had with the well-timed deadpans and homespun wit. (Sept.)
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When the angel of death came for Evelyn Peterson, she didn't know that Debbie Detmer would be back in Lake Wobegon for the first time in ages to be married, kinda, in a big lakeside ceremony on a pontoon boat with, among other things, a parachuting Elvis impersonator and a hot-air balloonall on the day Evelyn's memorial, also at the lake, would be held. Of course, how could she know that? Nobody else in town knew Debbie was coming, except for her parents, and given how Walter's been since that fall in the bathroom, maybe only Mrs. D. could be said to have known. During the days 'twixt death and marriage, lots happens. Barbara, Evelyn's daughter, learns that her mother hadn't been visiting relatives on her many out-of-town jaunts; she'd been partying with Raoul, the man she should have married. Barbara's son Kyle decides to honor Grandma's wish to have her ashes deposited in the lake by dropping them while parasailing. Now consider the possibilities with faux Elvis, balloon, and Kyle fleeting over the lake simultaneously . . . It's just the capper to a hyperbusy slice of small-town life of the sort that Keillor regularly exploits so hilariously and affectingly, and the moral of which may be that we'd all best be humble. Only comedian of horrors Christopher Moore, in his tales of Pine Cove, California, rivals Keillor as a provincial farceur. Olson, Ray
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