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Review: 'Liberty' brings turmoil to Keillor's Lake Wobegon

Blame it on the DNA test.

All his life, Clint Bunsen has been a stolid, responsible descendant of Norwegians. Or so he thought. Now, just after his 60th birthday, a DNA test has revealed that he's almost half Spanish.

Before you can say "tuna hot dish," Clint has gone to the Internet for advice, met a sexy 28-year-old red-haired psychic named Angelica Pflame and is thinking about walking out on his marriage, the family business and his leadership of the annual July 4 parade in Lake Wobegon to live on the beach in California.

That's the setup for Garrison Keillor's new novel Liberty, his latest about the fictional Minnesota town that's also at the core of A Prairie Home Companion, the public radio mainstay created by and starring Keillor that has been on the air (with interruptions) since 1974.

Keillor's distinctive storytelling style will bring fans to his appearance tonight at Mahaffey Theater and to Liberty. The novel pretty much assumes a reader's familiarity with Lake Wobegon and its quirky cast of characters and plunges right into its story, which is an R-rated, more complex version of Keillor's weekly "News From Lake Wobegon."

Clint's midlife crisis (60 being the new 40) is framed by his efforts to oversee the spectacular parade, which he has attempted to update, ticking off half the town in the process.

Will Sister Arvonne sneak her ocarina band into the lineup? Will CNN air the parade nationwide? Will Clint win Angelica, who's marching as (who else?) Miss Liberty? Keillor brings his usual warmth, wit and slightly warped sensibility to the task of answering those questions, weaving a poignant tale about youth and love lost and found into his rollicking tall tale.

Colette Bancroft can be reached at cbancroft@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8435.

Liberty

By Garrison Keillor

Viking, 267 pages, $25.95

If you go

Garrison Keillor will appear at 7 tonight at Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Tickets $45-$75; www.mahaffey

theater.com.

Review: 'Liberty' brings turmoil to Keillor's Lake Wobegon 11/22/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 22, 2008 3:30am]

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