Enjoyed the re-broadcast from 1985. More of those would be fun to listen to.
A question: How have you changed since 1985? What do you think about now as opposed to thirty years ago?
Got me thinking and, at 74, I think I'm slower to judge, calmer in temper and easier to live with but otherwise not that much different. We grow so soon old and never do get to do everything we thought we would!
For one thing, my voice is lower, Pat -- on that tape from 1985, I sounded like I was inhaling helium.
What I remember about 1985 is how I felt bewildered by the success of the show. That fall Lake Wobegon Days was on the NY Times best-seller list and I did a book tour and was overwhelmed by the long lines of people, the high ratings of the show, the press attention -- things that a person fantasizes about, especially a geeky person like me who never was really good at anything, and that makes it even weirder when it happens and it turns out to be not all that much fun. The thirsty dehydrated man falls into the lake and almost drowns. People treat you differently and it's hard to adjust to that. You're tempted to believe in your own abilities more than you should. Old friends retreat and you're thrown in among strangers. Hollywood knocks at your door. One Friday afternoon, Don and Phil Everly, heroes of my teen years, came to St. Paul and stood in my office at Minnesota Public Radio and we rehearsed a song for the next day's show in which I sang a baritone harmony part, and it struck me that life had changed. Also that I didn't know my part well enough. It was a crazy time. I look back and wish I had simply locked the doors and pulled the shades and concentrated on doing my work. It's work that makes you happy, I think. A good day of writing is absolutely glorious -- being on the cover of Time, not so much, though it did impress my parents.
To the Host:
How do you feel about Amazon.com's effect on books and bookselling? I am biased, being a book fiend and librarian. Is any good coming from the company having such a huge effect on books and bookselling?
I'm in the midst of a five-week book tour, Steve, and have seen a lot of independent bookstores in that time and a couple of Barnes & Nobles and it's encouraging to see, places like Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, Book Soup in L.A., the astonishing Bookpeople in Austin TX, the amazing Powell's in Portland and Elliott Bay in Seattle, Parnassus in Nashville -- I could go on -- Changing Hands in Phoenix, Warwick's in San Diego, Boulder Books in Boulder, Book House in Albany, BookCourt in Brooklyn, Odyssey in South Hadley MA, Diesel in Malibu -- where you walk in, are surrounded by good books, immediately see two or three you want to buy, and you encounter friendly knowledgeable people who enjoy their work. I buy books from Amazon.com now and then and it's very efficient, takes about two minutes, but shopping is a real-life experience, walking into a store, smelling the fresh paper, scanning the New Fiction table, New Non-Fiction, looking over the Biography & Memoir shelves, and getting some impressions of what's new in the book world. What people really care about, they write books about, and so a visit to a bookstore is a slice of the intellectual life of our country. And they put on events with authors so you can meet writers and take their measure. The neighborhood bookstore can compete with Amazon -- the stores I miss are the shopping center chains, B.Dalton and Waldenbooks, that were at one time ubiquitous and put books in front of vast numbers of people. They fell to online sellers, but your local bookseller is not fated to go that way if it engages the literate public.
Hello Mr. Keillor,
I'm in my mid twenties and I have an older brother who is very handsome and, through hard work and luck, very wealthy. While I work in a career I find enjoyable, I will never get rich at it. Nor do I possess such good looks as he. Lately, I find it so hard to spend time around him because I become consumed with jealousy. I love my brother and don't want to continue to hold on to this anger and hurt I feel. I would like to read your thoughts about overcoming envy.
Envy is the green-eyed monster. I have envied some athletes who also possessed charm and smarts, a pretty potent combination. But I got over envy simply by avoiding them, which isn't a good idea for you. I'm going to stick my neck out here and suggest a bold move on your part. Tell your brother you think that he and you should take a long trip together -- say, New Zealand, or India, or a cruise around South America -- someplace faraway and beautiful (and expensive), and he would pay for it. A sibling trip, just the two of you. Tell him you love him and you need to rebuild the bond between the two of you. If he says no, then give him a wide berth for awhile and then bring it up again. He should say yes and he should spend the money that would make it wonderful and on the trip you'll get to see him up close and get a better reading on him. His wealth may not be bringing him happiness. He may need your help and support. I think that closeness is a better strategy for you than avoiding him.