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Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon (Lake Wobegon Novels) Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 11, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
I grew up listening to Garrison on A Prairie Home Companion and attempted (unsuccessfully) to watch the recent Robert Altman film adaptation, so when I saw Pontoon, I snapped it up. Part of my love affair with Lake Wobegon stems from my own immigrant background; my grandmother immigrated from Poland in 1913, and my youth was spent at Polish masses and social gatherings (in Polish, of course!) filled with pierogi and gossip, much like Lake Wobegonians (minus the lutefisk, thankfully). I also grew up in a small Midwest town, so I could appreciate Garrison's good-natured ribbing at the monotony of life in small towns.
Garrison's characters are exquisitely drawn, and you can easily imagine them to be your next-door neighbors, full of idiosyncrasies and hidden wisdom. In Pontoon, the central character is Evelyn, an octogenarian with a passion for life who enjoys shocking the quieter Wobegonians with her forward ideas. Evelyn's sudden death wreaks havoc on her family, particularly on her alcoholic daughter Barbara, since her scandalous final wish is to be cremated and dumped into Lake Wobegon in a green bowling ball.Read more ›
I liked PONTOON a little bit better because these characters seem a whole lot more real. Evelyn Peterson is an 82-year-old Lutheran lady who dies at the beginning of the book. She had no time for funerals. She wants to be cremated, her ashes put in a bowling ball and thrown in a lake. She leaves a letter for daughter Barbara outlining her wishes. Barbara also discovers letters from Raoul, a lover she never knew her mother had. If you live in Minnesota you'll recognize Raoul. He's a moderator of a children's show that featured THE LITTLE RASCALS who sounds a whole lot like Clelland Card, creator of "Axel and his Dog."
The other featured character is Debbie Detmer, who had left Wobegone to make her fortune in Hollywood. She did, all right, but in a rather strange profession, aroma therapist to pets. This is just Keillor cracking wise. An aroma therapist to dogs is no stranger than tourists who visit the bathroom where Senator Craig was arrested.
Occasionally Keillor will throw in a poem or a song lyric that I would guess come from his show. "Oh the horses stood around with their feet upon the ground and who will wind my wristwatch when I'm gone? We feed the baby garlic so we can find him in the dark, and a girl's best friend is her mother" is a sample. He can also get down-right philosophical: "The trick is to not want it that much. Want it less. When you get to where you don't want it all, then you might get it.Read more ›
I listened to it, for lack of anything else to listen to on my morning drive, and I have to say: I liked it. It's good.
The characters, for the most part seem real and believable, the action is amusing, and the writing is clear and often funny.
"Pontoon" tells the antilinear story of a woman's death--of her life before it, of her family, of her neighbors, and it manages to entwine all of these lives into an amusing (if somewhat predictable and drawn-out and over-the-top) ending. It's touching and funny at the same time, and is, with one or two exceptions, a fairly accurate portrait of how small-town life can be.
As another entry in the Lake Wobegon canon, it's solid--not as good as "Lake Wobegon Days" or even "Wobegon Boy," but much better than say, "Leaving Home." On the audio version, Keillor does a good job of reading it, and I was grateful that some producer thought wisely enough to place the mic away from his wheezy nostrils. I mean, seriously, listen to the Writer's Almanac some morning; it sounds as if he's just finished running before every episode, or as if he just chugged a pan of grease. The guy's evidently in love with the sound of it, like a guitarist who likes to mic the sounds of his fingers squeaking down the frets. You can almost hear his nosehairs rustling.
Anyway. "Pontoon": a good book. And a good audio book.
Check it out.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There's just nobody like Garrison Keillor! This book has everything we love about Lake Wobegon--a feisty old lady with a secret life who wants her ashes to be buried in a bowling... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kathleen Valentine
I rated Pontoon a 2 because I was expecting a great deal of humor.
Short on humor and very LONG on sad, down content. Read more
I haven't read a lot of Garrison Keillor but I was little disappointed in the detailed sex experiences. I was expecting something of a more family oriented story.Published 10 months ago by Sharon R. Gray
As mentioned by some other reviews, the “publisher’s summary” written above is highly inaccurate.
This story revolves around a funeral, a wedding, and the idea of living... Read more
This book contains a two chapter climactic sequence that had me laughing out loud on an airplane in uncontrollable guffaws. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Robert Horn