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Many of today’s writers are mediocre, some are quite good, a few are great. I know of only two contemporary writers who are geniuses (and self-effacing at that !). The other one is Garrison Keillor.

Americans have known Gary for forty years. The lucky ones got to know him from his Sunday night radio show, where the world’s greatest storyteller since Mark Twain had them rolling all over the living-room listening to his Lake Wobegon stories. The rest of us learned about Gary through his books and tapes. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

Religion is a fairly frequent backdrop in his stories. Some of them have to be the most effective, as well as the funniest and the most gentle send-up of religion you will ever hear or read. Just two examples from his “Reader” should be enough to convince you. I cannot violate copyright and I will not spoil the pleasure of your experiencing Gary directly, by quoting them at length here. But you simply must read “Gospel Birds” and his new, enlarged version of the “Pontoon” yarn, both featured in “The Keillor Reader” (Viking, Penguin Group, N.Y., 2014).

Even future Nobel Prize winners like me will one day be forgotten. But Gary Keillor will keep people laughing as long as they remember, as he says, that “there is a lot of human nature in everybody”, and, as I say, that religion really is ridiculous.

RIDENDA RELIGIO

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