WLT: A Radio Romance

WLT: A Radio Romance

3.5 2
by Garrison Keillor
     
 

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In the spring of 1926, the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, plunge into radio and launch station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) to rescuer their failing restaurant and become the Sandwich Kings of South Minneapolis. For the next quarter century, the “Friendly Neighbor” station produces a dazzling array of shows and stars, including Leo LaValley, Dad

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Overview

In the spring of 1926, the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, plunge into radio and launch station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) to rescuer their failing restaurant and become the Sandwich Kings of South Minneapolis. For the next quarter century, the “Friendly Neighbor” station produces a dazzling array of shows and stars, including Leo LaValley, Dad Benson, Wingo Beals, Slim Graves and Little Buddy, chain-smoking child star Marjery Moore, and blind baseball announcer Buck Steller.

Francis With, a shy young man from North Dakota, entranced by radio, gets into WLT through his uncle Art and quickly becomes the Soderbjerg's right hand. Soon Francis is a budding announcer adored by Lily Dale, the crippled nightingale of WLT kept hidden from her fans, whose firing contributes to the downfall of the station. And then comes television.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Mr. Keillor is at his best…. Every bit of his huge storytelling talent is here,” —The Washington Post

“Irresistibly delicious…a satisfying romp with a yarnmaster who can make you howl.” —The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On the air and in print, Keillor has been telling wonderful stories for years, but this is his first novel. It is, as you might expect, brimful of characters, full of northwoods angst, spiced with a little sex, and cynicism and sentiment have been neatly interwoven. It is the story of a Minneapolis radio station from its launch by the Soderbjerg brothers, Ray and Roy, who hope to attract attention to their foundering sandwich shop (the call sign translates to ``with lettuce and tomato''), to the time, 30 years later, when it begins to founder under the onslaught of television. Dozens of innocent and not-so-innocent girls and scheming, heavy-drinking men live out their lives among its studios and microphones: one of Keillor's most cunning strokes is to saunter back and forth between the realm of the radio and the real world of his performers, including boozy gospel singers, saintly Dad Benson and his horrendous radio daughter, and smart young Frank White, who alone makes the transition to TV. Episodic, often absurd, frequently uproarious, it is a poignant reminder of a time that never was but probably should have been. 250,000 first printing; $300,000 ad/promo; first serial to the New Yorker; BOMC featured alternate. (Nov.)
Booknews
The novel upon which Keillor has worked over the last 15 years. A treasure for his myriad fans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
The glory days of Midwest radio prove the ideal subject for old radio-hand Keillor, now writing at the height of his awesome power, which could make a homesick cat laugh. Brothers Ray and Roy Soderbjerg set up station WLT (With Lettuce and Tomato) in Minneapolis in 1926 to draw crowds to their wilting sandwich restaurant. The station proves a gold mine after the two reluctantly agree to allow commercials, and the brothers turn their somewhat divided attention (Ray's chief vocation is sex, Roy's inventing the unnecessary) to the new medium. The novel takes off on a sustained joyride as a hilarious bunch of characters are hired to fill the air with the cornball, pseudo-pious, pseudo- populist fare that held the Midwest in thrall until television offered a superior snow job. Keillor continually contrasts the smutty, lust-filled lives of the cast and crew in the studio with the wholesome, homespun drivel they broadcast. On air, for example, Little Becky is a winsome angel, but look out—the chain-smoking child star will perform the crudest of practical jokes on the unwary. A blind sports announcer, a crushingly cheerful songstress confined to her wheelchair by polio and fat, and a dissolute group of gospel singers are just some of the superb oddities that people Keillor's pages. A straight man to these comic figures and the novel's hero is young Francis With, who comes of age at the station and goes on to great things. The comedy is as broad as it comes, but it also has a depth that includes poignancy, particularly as it records the station's downhill slide. Humor and insight into the heart of raunchy America don't get any better than this.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140103809
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/1992
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.96(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Mr. Keillor is at his best…. Every bit of his huge storytelling talent is here,” —The Washington Post

“Irresistibly delicious…a satisfying romp with a yarnmaster who can make you howl.” —The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Meet the Author

Garrison Keillor, author of nearly a dozen books, is founder and host of the acclaimed radio show A Prairie Home Companion and the daily program The Writer's Almanac. He is also a regular contributor to Time magazine.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
St. Paul, Minnesota
Date of Birth:
August 7, 1942
Place of Birth:
Anoka, Minnesota
Education:
B.A., University of Minnesota, 1966

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WLT: A Radio Romance 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you know him from the radio show, odds are good you will strongly dislike this book. He does have a FCC to worry about and takes full advantage of this fact.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've never read anything by this author and don't know why I read this, but I'm glad I did. This is laugh-out-loud funny! A warm and charming book with great characters you love, even the bad ones. A great book!