Garrison Keillor, who hosts and writes NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” is reading from his comic novel “A Christmas Blizzard” tonight at [words] bookstore in Maplewood at 7:30. Seats for the event are sold out, but you can get on the SRO list by calling the store at (973) 763-9500. To be admitted, you have to buy the book.
Owner Jonah Zimiles says he is excited to have Keillor come, but points out that the independently owned bookstore, founded two and a half years ago, has also hosted three former governors and Mayor Koch, among others. They currently host about 17 events a month.
In addition to its community events, the store has a vocational program for people with autism that gives them work experience in the context of a typical business, Zimiles says, which he guesses may have appealed to Keillor.
Zimiles and his wife Ellen founded the store two and a half years years ago when she saw that Goldfinch, Maplewood’s independent bookstore, was going out of business. “We decided to step up, even though we weren’t retailers,” Zimiles explains. He and his wife were both lawyers. They kept all eleven employees, moving the store from 97A Baker Street to a larger space on 179 Maplewood Avenue.
While space for tonight’s event is limited, Zimiles says that Keillor will stay afterwards to sign books. “He’s probably the most famous of the non politicians we’ve had,” Zimiles says. Zimiles had to turn people away for a reading by National Magazine Award winner Matt Taibi. But there should be “unlimited” time for Keillor to sign books.
Keillor has hosted the popular variety radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” with its popular segment “The News from Lake Wobegon,” a fictional Minnesota town, since 1974. Famously he performs that segment without notes, ending with the tag “and that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” The show inspired a film of the same name, directed by Robert Altman, and written by Keillorin 2006, which starred Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep, and featuring Keillor. “A Christmas Blizzard” tells the story of a man trying to get to Hawaii over Christmas, hampered by a storm.
[words] is at 179 Maplewood Avenue. For reservations, call (973) 763-9500.