Evelyn dies and wishes to be cremated, her ashes placed into a green bowling ball and dropped into Lake Wobegon. A wedding on a pontoon with a flying Elvis and giant duck decoys is planned at the same time. Meanwhile 24 Danish pastors are passing through because they denied the divinity of Jesus.

Pontoon was a whirlwind of an experience.

Garrison Keillor is a magical storyteller, perfectly weaving threads of true-to-life experience within the cloth of all those things we wish we could do or wish our neighbors wouldn’t. He has a weird, slow, Midwestern drawl of sorts that sounds like your crazy old grandpa telling stories you’ve heard 25 times before, but it doesn’t matter because he changes at least one detail every time, and you don’t wanna miss it.

Give him a listen here. Really, just pick any show and listen till you laugh.

Pontoon was a very weird book. My only regret was reading the entire thing in a week. After you’ve listened to Garrison Keillor’s voice, it starts to permeate the things you read. Reading Pontoon in my head in Keillor’s voice was a lovely experience, but I rushed through the book, making it hard to maintain that mental voice.

If you are going to read Pontoon, I recommend planning to read the whole thing. Garrison Keillor’s shows tend to have a lot of loose ends that tie themselves up in the last 5 or so minutes of the broadcast, and his novels do the same. Pontoon tied up every loose end that was worth tying up in the very last chapter. The book runs a little slow in places, but it’s worth sticking out for the end.

Entertaining, fun, just silly enough. However, it’s hard to recommend reading a Garrison Keillor novel, in the same way that it’s hard to introduce Homestar Runner to people; without any context, you just feel like you’re on the outside of a continuous inside joke. You almost need to commit to listening to a few hours of a Prairie Home Companion before even starting the book.

I consider Garrison Keillor to be a 5-star experience, but Pontoon on its own, with no prior exposure to Garrison Keillor would be more of a 3-star experience.

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