It was at this time, when I was feeling the most vulnerable and lonesome, that I began religiously reading The Writer's Almanac. It waited for me every morning, the first item in my inbox, the message in it simple: a reprint of a poem, a list of the birthdays and bios of writers and artists. I'd skim the birthdays first, taking comfort in the gnarled paths of famous writers, and then I would read the poem. After the first couple of emails I saw that I could click on listen instead, and so I did, and out from my email came Garrison Keillor's voice, syrupy and luxurious and patient, reading aloud to me. Those quiet mornings, Garrison Keillor's voice would echo throughout the house; sometimes, he'd be the only other voice I'd hear that day until late that night, when my husband came home from work. Garrison's storytelling voice would then follow me to the page, narrating the words I put down, letting me trick myself into believing that what I was writing was indeed a story. I owe many rough drafts to that voice.
Tonight Garrison Keillor will be at the store, on tour for his new book The Keillor Reader. I imagine many will have a similar story that they'll want to share with Garrison when they get to meet him in the signing line. That is the power of oral storytelling, of radio, really. Books are portable, your imagination's physical companion, but radio voices become part of your family, sharing the space of your home or car. Tonight his reading will be hooked up to speakers throughout the store. I'm helping out with the event but I know I'll be tempted to go upstairs and quietly shelve some books in my section, in my home away from home, as I listen to the voice that kept me company so long ago.