Monday, July 26, 2004

Lake Wobegon Days

After zipping through 12 books during my maternity leave with Dova (one was 800 pages!!), I slowly plodded through Garrison Keillor's first book Lake Wobegon Days.  I assumed this was going to be a great book since I love his monologues on Prairie Home Companion.  I always check out the reviews on Amazon first before reading a book, and was surprised to see that is was split between raves and boos.  Dullsville?  All those great stories on the radio aren't boring!!

Unfortunately, I would have to agree with the latter bunch.  It was a slow read, I'm not sure whether it was because of my hectic schedule going back to work, or because I put it in the upstairs bedroom (downstairs is reserved for my Time magazine addition).  Plus I just didn't like his style and tone.  Some parts of the book were just slow and not interesting, full of details and mundane happenings that I just couldn't get myself to care about.  Then there would be really funny gems, but he rushed through them instead of taking his time building them up like he does during the monologue.  And then there was the really bitter undercurrent which you can sense about his upbringing towards his parents and religion.  There was a section of footnotes that lasted a whole chapter which was just a distracting way to read (I read the long footnote, which was full of the bitter resentments, and then I had to go back and read the main text, which was simply unmemorable, almost just filler so that he could write a really long footnote).

I guess from now on, I will stick to the audio monologues.


Anonymous said...

I didn't find the book to be quite as bad as you, but I was disappointed as well.

Anonymous said...

Funny how that is. I mean the written vs the spoken word. (I never read the book you refer to...silly as I sound, I don't do much in the way of fiction reading....probably the reason I'm such a bore :-)

But I had a similar experience with a book I recently had to read for an MBA class I am in. The book was called "Execution"....and after reading about three chapters, I was hoping someone might come and put me out of my was repetative and very boring.

I decided to buy it on CD, and believe it or not, the repetition was very good in audio form. It was excellent!

I had such great experience with that, I decided to so the same thing with another book I had to read called "Built to Last"....and the tapes were good, but I ended up reading the book because it just seemed more logical and flowed better in the written word.

I don't quite get it....but I know it when I see it.

Angela said...

I believe that storytelling is best told orally, and there is a real art to it. I remember books on tape (or CD or iPod nowadays) much more vividly than books that I've read for the most part. There is less processing required when you hear as opposed to when you read. It is so apparent when you see children develop. They pick up spoken language so quickly, while reading requires first the decoding of words and then comprehension of what you are reading.

Anonymous said...

Oh...there is where I said made this comment!

Oh, and your comment about learning "Bandwith" being higher with audio communication over written....I say ditto for visual too.

I think that there is just so much more information passed in the tone of voice...speed of verse, and just the general tenor of the speaker. (never mind body language)

We just don't have enough different types of punctuation marks to indicate all those emotions or feelings. We have to start adding tons of words to communicate it, which makes it more difficult to understand and follow.

This is why if I had the choice, I would rather communicate with people face-to-face....then drop down to phone....then perhaps IM...and then email being the last resort. (and written letter after that) There is just less and less personal interraction...and IMHO, lower quality/bandwith communication as you go down that list of communication methods.