From the Desk of Garrison Keillor
A prolific writer, Garrison Keillor is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and abroad. To the right, you find a selection of articles published since 1989, and a few unpublished pieces.

The Seven Deadly Sins—Envy
From Outside Magazine

April 1997

Envy is the adolescent sin that we try to immunize against by thinking about the Unhappy Rich and the terrible price to be paid for fame, a myth borne out in the miserable deaths of rock stars, the aimless lives of Hollywood children, the epic self-absorption of tycoons. But those aren't the people we envy, exactly. I went fishing for salmon on a commercial boat out of Juneau, Alaska, one cold summer morning years ago and sat in the pilot house, and watched the captain maneuver out of the anchorage and up the fjord, one ear to the radio, pointing out mountain peaks to me, watching for whales and porpoises, and suddenly I was attacked by a greenish yearning to be him and have a boat. To have his laconic cool, his weather eye, his immense sailorly style, his stiff-legged grace, always knowing exactly what to do next, the unflappable unrushed nature of a man who deals with the Sea. His squint on life. I'm from Minnesota, and a deep-sea fisherman is a large figure to me. Luckily, the fever passed when I got back to shore, otherwise I might be stuck with one of those forty-foot fiberglass tubs that men buy who are overcome by boat envy. A terrible purchase, because it wasn't the boat they wanted: it was the cool, the squint, the walk, the talk.

Envy is such a creepy little sin that few will ever confess to it, or express it, except in reverse, as moral outrage, rising up to smite the people you envy. That itchy Republican envy of the counterculture gave us the war on drugs, which has cost billions and destroyed lives and accomplished next to nothing. The envy that older white males in Washington feel for Bill Clinton keeps the Clinton scandal industry bubbling along. The envy that we midwesterners feel for people on the coasts, who seem not to be bound by the same cautions and taboos we grew up with, not so inhibited by modesty, who take open pleasure in their talents, their possessions, their good fortune in being who they are, people who don't carry the clunky moral baggage that we do.

I think of a man I met once in Los Angeles, a writer who cranks out TV shows in which unattractive people snarl at each other to the accompaniment of a laugh track. He is 34 and lives atop a hill in Malibu in a big rambling sunny house with umber tile floors and rattan carpets and white gilded furniture, where you amble out into the balmy February twilight, a glass of wine in hand, and stand on the edge of the hill and gaze out at the blue Pacific bathed in sunset tones --- I envy him. Envy his house, his wardrobe, his slender waist, his risotto, his dreamy photographs of South America where he's been and I haven't ---- what a golden deal this flannel-brain has made for himself. The guy is a flabby writer, a creator of unrecyclable trash, and he is jetting down to Brazil and Peru and climbing the Andes and canoeing into the rain forests and having more fun than I am, especially when I sit here and envy him.

I am not proud of myself for this, but I do entertain hopes that he may experience interesting mishaps on his expeditions. I wish he would aim his camera toward that distant cloud-wrapped mountain and step forward and fall off the ledge into the slough and be bitten by a fish and break a leg and have to be carried for three days by people who loathe him. From the bite he would catch a rare fish-transmitted disease that leaves the victim feeling lethargic and stupefied and that takes sixteen months to run its course. I would send him a note of sympathy. Charity is the antidote for envy, but one must have an occasion for charity. His brave struggle against a fish-transmitted stupor would clear up my envy completely, I'm sure.

Past Articles
  • Phil Keillor Benefit for the Tenney Park Shelter (04/17/09)
  • Bill Holm, 1943–2009 (02/26/09)
  • Happy New Year, Friends (12/29/08)
  • Talk of the Stacks (11/17/08)
  • What Makes St. Paul So Great? (09/03/08)
  • GK On Historic Preservation (10/05/07)
  • Welcome to St. Paul (09/23/06)
  • "Homegrown Democrat," Chapters 1-4 (08/10/04)
  • Sing the National Anthem—and Try it in the Key of G (07/02/04)
  • Holiday Greetings from Garrison Keillor (12/23/03)
  • Remembering Plimpton (10/01/03)
  • Crankiness in Decline, Says the Old Guy (04/19/02)
  • A Governor Works in Mysterious Ways (10/19/01)
  • In Praise of Laziness (09/10/01)
  • I Just Needed a Valve Job (09/13/01)
  • A Eulogy for Chet Atkins (07/03/01)
  • A Foot Soldier in God's Floating Orchestra (04/01)
  • Exile on Main Street (10/02/00)
  • Walking Down the Canyon (07/31/00)
  • The Mysteries of Prom Night (05/15/00)
  • How I Write (12/04/99)
  • The Christmas of the Great Flu (12/99)
  • Let Jesse Be Jesse (10/10/99)
  • The Rice, the Bat, the Baby (09/06/99)
  • Faith at the Speed of Life (06/14/99)
  • The Republicans Were Right, But (02/15/99)
  • Minnesota's Excellent Ventura (11/16/98)
  • The Dangers of Christmas (04/06/98)
  • Gasgate (11/10/97)
  • Talk Radio (10/97)
  • The Seven Principles of a Successful Christmas (09/08/97)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins—Envy (04/97)
  • You Say Potato (04/04/96)
  • The Poetry Judge (02/96)
  • With All the Trimmings (11/27/95)
  • In Autumn We Get Older (11/06/95)
  • Minnesota's Sensible Plan (09/11/95)
  • The Art of the Embrace (02/95)
  • The Voters are Angry (08/94)
  • Word Play (05/18/90)
  • We Are Still Married (12/18/89)
  • Elevator Tales
  • A Graduation Speech

  • Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

    Old Sweet Songs

    Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

    Available now»

    American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy