Scoring Garrison Keillor

GarrisonI am an English Major.

I can quote John Keats, I have good chunks of Hamlet memorized, and I once wrote a fictional book about Jane Austen (really I did, check it out). Seriously, they rarely get more English Majorally than me.

I get that there is little a person can do with such a degree. With my added MFA in Creative Writing, I live it. We teach (creating more English Majors and creative writers in the process) or we attempt to write or we edit the work of others, possibly those more successful. That’s pretty much it.  We are part of an ever-growing cycle that doesn’t fit in the business world at large. No one in a financial board room has ever shouted “Quick! Get me an English Major! This report is missing symbolism!”

Yet, each week, Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion brings forward the “lunacy” of the idea of being an English Major and mocks it. Just listen to the audience laugh each time Garrison steps forward to help someone in a skit or woo by saying he is an “English Major.” Laugh, audience, laugh.

Ever since he has started this running gag, I’ve had to use fake smiles when people bring it up to me (and they do all the time). Everyone is in on this “joke,” and we that love literature and books are the brunt of it. It is at our expense. So this would be my first negative for Garrison.

Why is it wrong or a joke for people to want to study and spend their lives around something that they love (books)? Yes, business major, for example, would have the best potential for success, but that is if you only define success in financial terms. Most of us that go into the arts don’t do that. Is this counter to the American dream of big houses and multiple cars and that is why people laugh at us as if we are foolish? Whatever the case, as a writer and lover of books, Garrison should be on our side. Not on the side of the other majors, presenting us as foolish.

Oh, and this also goes for librarians too. Since he seems to mock that field just as much and plays off of the stereotypes of them. Yeah, I’m going to give him a second negative for that. (So far he is at negative 2.)

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Writing About Genius: Discussing Authors on a Blog

I tolerate Garrison Keillor, but I am not sure how much I like him.

While I am impressed that he can write a two-hour show each week (and that is an accomplishment, make no mistake), I never found his fiction to be very good– comforting, yes; good, no. When planning for a trip to Italy with my wife, I picked up a bunch of his novels for all of the driving from tourist site to tourist site.  Well, on day two of the trip, I gave his books to another traveler, and picked up some new books at a bus stop… Yeah, that says everything right there.

So why do I bring up Mr. Keillor? Frankly, I don’t think he helps the image of English majors and readers on his show. English majors (and I will include librarians with us since they get attacked as well) in his opinion seem to always live a life of illusion, false grandeur.  Making us almost something to be pitied or laughed at… and they laugh every week.

Yes, English majors really don’t serve much of a purpose in the economy, no business manager has ever demanded an HR department to hire a new English major. When it comes to the American dream of moving up ladders and finding success, English majors are on the outskirts; because, honestly, our dreams are different. Continue reading