Connecting the literary dots: John Updike, Garrison Keillor, and my closet in Reading, Pennsylvania
Since I’ve started podcasting, I’m listening to more podcasts. Earlier this week, I recommended my new fav show produced by writers Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter. Yesterday morning, I downloaded a few other shows, in search of more audio literary gems, and I found one that seemed promising: The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.
The episode length of this show– five minutes – means that you can digest it while you’re walking the dog, driving to work, or waiting in line at the coffee shop. The show offers a this-day-in-literary history tidbit and the reading of a poem. Need to compensate for your choice to not major in English Literature? (Speaking to myself.) Binge-listen to about a year’s worth of these, and you’re good.
Keillor, who sounds like he could just as easily be reading you bedtime stories and rubbing your back till you fall asleep, hosts the podcast. He began today’s podcast with this: “It’s the birthday of John Updike, born in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1932.”
As you know, I am on draft two of my memoir. Since I’ve been rewriting, I’ve discovered that Pennsylvania is a character, in a sense. If you listen to Behind the Prose, you know I broadcast from a closet in Pennsylvania. What you don’t know is that closet is in Reading.
I googled Keillor. His Wikipedia bio identified him as an American humorist. In the last episode of Behind the Prose, I talked about my humor writing aspirations and obsession with McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. What I didn’t say is how I’m making a list of American humorists and reading their works.
I scanned his stats: born (Aug. 7), spouse (three), books (so many the bio only named two and followed with the word “more”), upcoming events (six).
The first in the list? Reading, PA Thu Apr 9
Despite whatever higher energy force or power one believes or doesn’t believe in, I think there’s one thing that all people can attest to: strangely appropriate connections or happenings that occur despite largely improbable odds.
As Sherman Alexie said on one of the early episodes of A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, writers are called to be observant. Though being aware of connections doesn’t mean we understand them, it does obligate us to follow the trail into the forest, in search of a cabin.
For me, the cabin is the Santander Arena in Reading on April 9. Keillor will be inside, but hopefully not dressed up like my grandmother.