Liberty, By Garrison Keillor

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The Independent Culture

We are back once again in the droll world of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon – that small-town community of God-fearing grumps, descendants of either Norwegian Protestants or German Catholics.

Clint Bunsen is a 60-year-old garage mechanic, a staunch patriot and Republican who every year organises the town's Fourth of July celebrations, in return for little praise and much criticism. But this is his last year. In a cruel putsch, he's been voted off the committee. He's also taken a DNA test that has given him reason to believe his ancestors were not dour Lutherans but rather hot-blooded Spaniards – and he's thinking of leaving his wife and running away with a 28-year-old model he met on the internet.

This is a wonderful comic exploration of the crisis of late middle age, animated by Keillor's witty use of language. One character has a face so blasted by drink that "you'd think cougars had been chewing on him". Loans sent out to Clint's son Chad never come back, "like aircraft lost at sea". And in a melancholy moment, Clint reflects that his life resembles "a play written by someone who didn't like him".