2008 is going to be a good year for Prairie Home Companion fans as many of the early recordings are going to be re-released.

One of these is Hope from the 1989 4-volume More News From Lake Wobegon set that includes Faith, Humor, and Love.

Hope contains the stories Truckstop, Smokes, The Perils of Spring, and Let Us Pray. The CD features a much kinder and gentler Lake Wobegon that what current NPR Minnesota Public Radio listeners are used to.

The More News From Lake Wobegon set includes all the stories originally on cassette but the CDs themselves do not have the same titles as the tapes. The cassette version of Hope included Alaska, The Perils of Spring, A Trip to Grand Rapids, and Author. The new line-up is a lot better as it puts connected stories on the same CD

Truckstop is the classic tale where Florian Krepsbach accidently forgets his wife Myrtle at a truckstop.

The truckstop story is one Keillor has often retold, sometimes making it autobiographical, and alluded to over the last twenty or so years but this is the original tale.

Smokes chronologically follows Truckstop as it begins with Florian wondering what retribution is in store for him for what happened the week before.

This is the story of how guilt can improve life: Lyle, Florian’s son in law, ends up quitting smoking after a frantic search for a cigarette ends up hurting his daughter. Long-time Wobegon fans will wonder what ever happened to Lyle’s daughter but the story itself is quite funny and touching.

The Perils of Spring is a very short, even by recent Prairie Home Companion standards, tale and the lesser of the three stories on Hope. In fact, it is very similar to Keillor’s stories over the last few years that are simply about an incident of some kind in Lake Wobegon but does not rise past the anecdote level.

The closer, Let Us Pray is both a serious and very comical story and one of the more religious News segments ever told. The beginning, about Marilyn Tollerud being unhappy about her fate as family laundress is anecdotal.

Let Us Pray is the story of Pastor Inqvist sending out a newsletter advising the people in Lake Wobegon that he will call on one of them next Sunday to give the closing prayer. This sends everybody in a bit of a panic and has very funny yet touching results. Keillor attaches reference to the Book of Job -something he has often done-but the preparations for this public ordeal is what makes the story really original and humorous.

Long-time fans of Prairie Home Companion will rejoice at this re-release. New fans will really enjoy the better told and kinder and gentler version of Lake Wobegon

News From Lake Wobegon – Hope
Garrison Keillor 1989
4 stories 1 CD
HighBridge Audio 2008
73 minutes

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