By Garrison Keillor
Published by the Penguin Group
Copyright © 2007
Evelyn, an old Lutheran Lady, has died at the age of eighty-two. She went in her sleep so they say. It was just the way she wanted to go. She left a letter describing her wishes for burial, and it has some Lutherans who thought they knew her well rather shocked. Evelyn doesn’t want a church Service, a viewing, a memorial, or a burial service. She wants to be dressed up in a green rhinestone dress, cremated and put into a hollowed out green bowling ball, and dropped into Lake Wobegon while Andy Williams “Moon River” is played. Evelyn wrote a letter to this affect for her daughter Barbara to find. That letter along with a few others that she finds that were never sent to her have a profound and freeing affect on her and her son Kyle.
This same week thirty-five year old Debbie Detmer comes home to get married. She is a local wild child who moved to California when she was young and ended up making millions as a pet aromatherapist. She is set to marry a high-strung private jet salesman; the only problem is it isn’t really a marriage, it is a ceremony of commitment (which is not legally binding) replete with expensive champagne, shrimp, cheese, a pontoon boat, two gigantic decoy pedal ducks, a parachuting Elvis impersonator, and a hot air balloon. Oh, and this is also going to be on Lake Wobegon…the same day as the funeral.
Throw in a parasail bowling ball deployment, a group of 24 liberal rebel Danish Lutheran pastors on a tour of the Midwest, and an old dog that smells moldy carrying a dead fish in his mouth and you have a recipe for a scene that is truly hilarious.
Garrison Keillor, creator of the Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio and author of many novels of his beloved Lake Wobegon, is a master of dry, Midwestern, Lutheran wit. He has managed to write another book about Lake Wobegon that will make you laugh and think at the same time. Some of his novels can be too crowded with characters and back stories which make his novels hard to follow, but this one is perfect. It wasn’t hard to figure out where the off track character and stories fit in. “Pontoon” is a wonderfully funny life affirming novel, and I loved every minute of it. If you like stories about small town communities that are just a little off kilter and slightly irreverent, you’ll love this one.