Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Tome - O, What a Luxury

I'm enjoying this volume of light verse from Garrison Keillor. O, What  Luxury is Keillor's first collection of original poetry.  Many of the poems, I suspect, were originally song parodies written for the Prairie Home Companion radio show. I'll admit to preferring earlier drafts of some of the poems which previously appeared on Keillor's The Writer's Almanac radio show and blog under the pseudonym, Ramon Montaigne.

Here's a short exerpt from "Doxology"...

O Lord, please bless our old state fair
The riders whirling in the air,
The ladies who have baked the pies,
Competing for the First Grand Prize.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
The rodeo and talent show.
Praise Him for sugar and for grease,
And may He grant our stomachs peace.

From Booklist
Half the “Masters of the House” (of light verse) to whom Keillor dedicates this collection—Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Roger Miller—are great song lyricists, and Ogden Nash wrote, albeit as a sideline, rhymes for Kurt Weill, among others. Keillor has sung plenty of those bards’ works on A Prairie Home Companion; his guests on the show, more. Unsurprisingly, then, music permeates his comic verse, contributing the melody the words sometimes lack (Ira or Cole he ain’t quite, as he might admit). It’s full of out-and-out song parodies, such as “Home on the Plains (instead of ‘Range’),” “Nikolina” (same title as, wryer story than the Swedish American vaudeville standard of the same name), “Dark (not ‘Blue’) Skies,” and cleverest, perhaps, “Episcopalian,” to be sung to “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Besides tunefulness, formal variety abounds. Keillor writes excellent limericks, most not dirty, and while he wisely never essays Nash’s trademark, wildly irregular couplets, he often loosens meter to the point of blowsiness. As in his best-selling fiction, the subject matter is the (very funny) stuff of the lumpen-bourgeois blues. --Ray Olson

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