Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon (Putnam, 2015)
I’m sure that Jan Karon didn’t originally plan to write so many books about Father Tim and his Appalachian friends and family, but readers demanded to read more and she delivered. Although readers new to the series would have no trouble understanding or appreciating the story, it is clearly intended to wrap up many individual story lines in the way a series finale on television does. In this story Father Tim is still present, but much of the story is told through the eyes of his son Dooley and his fiancé Lace, among others – kind of like passing the protagonist baton to the next generation. Come Rain or Come Shine is the story of Dooley and Lace’s wedding, and how they got there. It doesn’t disappoint, and will surely make the New York Times Bestseller list as Karon’s other books did.
The Keillor Reader by Garrison Keillor (Penguin Books, 2014)
Lately I’ve often been on the road on Sunday night when A Prairie Home Companion comes on public radio, and I’ve come to appreciate it. So I purchased this collection of Garrison Keillor stories at Barnes & Noble, which is subtitled “Looking back at forty years of stories: where did they all come from?” Like the stories he tells on the radio, Garrison Keillor’s fiction is very hard to distinguish from real life. I still don’t know whether those powder milk biscuits they advertise every week actually exist or they’re just a joke. Unfortunately, his humor doesn’t come through nearly as well on the printed page, or maybe I just don’t get it. This is essentially a book of short stories, but they’re all kind of random and weird, and not as funny as Sarah Vowell’s. Probably they would make more sense if I had been listening to the show for many years. If you’re a huge fan of the show, take my criticism with a grain of salt – you’ll probably love this book.