If you are looking for audiobooks to fall asleep to, you can’t do better than listen to stories written and read by Garrison Keillor about his (fictional) hometown of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota where nothing overtly dramatic ever happens.
Keillor, who has an unhurried delivery, begins and ends his stories with phrases which I’m now so familiar with I could … well … recite them in my sleep. “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown” he says as begins another story about decent and hard-working folk and of small-town happenings which are both funny and full of pathos. “That’s all the news from my home town” he intones at the close of each tale, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."
Actually, the citizens of Lake Wobegon are lugubrious folks of Norwegian extraction and Lutheran beliefs who are suspicious of happiness and overt expressions of emotion. Minnesota’s long, harsh winters only exacerbates this disinclination to light-heartedness: they gather for coffee and delicious homemade rhubarb pie in the town’s Chatterbox Cafe but they definitely don’t chatter.
I thought of Lake Wobegon and the Chatterbox Cafe last week as I sat in a Westport cafe with a friend after a couple of days staying at a bach near Punakaiki, with a roaring fire and a view of the sea crashing spectacularly below.