Cheerfulness

Garrison Keillor

Publisher: Prairie Home Productions Pages: 268 Price: (paperback) $21.95 ISBN: 9798988281801 Reviewed: November, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

Garrison Keillor advocates adopting a positive outlook on life in his new book, Cheerfulness.

Now 80 and relocated from Minnesota to Manhattan, veteran writer and radio host Keillor reflects on his life through autobiographical anecdotes interspersed with limericks. He is nostalgic but intends “to be a cheerful old man and show the young that such is possible: with a measure of luck, life can become more and more enjoyable.”

Keillor’s vision of cheerfulness asserts that “you still dance and let your heart sing” in the face of troubles. He credits his parents for demonstrating this virtue through humor and lack of complaint while raising a family during the Depression, as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings (e.g., “there is always time enough for courtesy”) for instilling in him the sense that cheerfulness is a choice. He delineates how cheerfulness differs from sentiments such as happiness (“circumstantial”) and elation (“momentary”) in that it can be self-actualizing and sustainable by being kind to others and refraining from self-pity.

Keillor is strongest when offering witty aphorisms (e.g., “aging, though likely to be fatal, need not be dull”) and astute cultural observations. His overall lighthearted tone is infused with a touch of sharpness when briefly acknowledging his prior two failed marriages and dismissal five years earlier by Minnesota Public Radio, which he refers to only passingly, calling it a “shakedown scheme by a man and a woman who’d worked for the show for years—‘pay us a million bucks or we’ll say bad things about you’…” He may offend some with his barbs aimed at former President Trump and others with his jabs at political correctness, yet contends “bumper stickers don’t matter, we’re Americans.” Although his advice is not groundbreaking and recalls his essay on the same topic in The Keillor Reader (2014), its simplicity is its charm.

In all, this is a humorous, insightful perspective on life that showcases Keillor’s signature cocktail of droll storytelling and wry commentary.

Also available as an ebook and audiobook.

BlueInk Heads-Up: Of particular interest to libraries and collections in the Midwest and to Prairie Home Companion fans.

Author's Current Residence
New York, New York
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