Here’s some news that ought to make John Updike Society members and Updike fans smile and start Googling cheap flights to Columbia, South Carolina.
Garrison Keillor, best known as the longtime host of the NPR radio program A Prairie Home Companion, will be the keynote speaker for the Fourth Biennial John Updike Society Conference, hosted by the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina Libraries. Keillor will kick off the conference with an 8 p.m. keynote address on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.
Keillor is one of Updike’s biggest fans and has often featured poems by Updike on The Writer’s Almanac, a daily program he hosts. A literary star himself, he has also written a string of books that started back in 1985 with Lake Wobegon Days.
Keillor was born in 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota, and began his radio career as a freshman at the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1966. He went to work for Minnesota Public Radio in 1969, and on July 6, 1974, he hosted the first broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul. Today, some 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations coast to coast and beyond tune in to the show each week.
Keillor has been honored with Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters—the latter two honors something he has in common with Updike. His many books of humor and fiction include Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny, and his latest, The Keillor Reader: Looking Back at Forty Years of Stories: Where Did They All Come From? (Viking, 2015). Keillor has also edited several anthologies of poetry, most recently, Good Poems: American Places (Viking, 2011).
In 2006, Keillor played himself in the movie adaptation of his show, a film directed by Robert Altman. He has two grandsons and in 2007 he opened an independent bookstore, Common Good Books, in St. Paul, the city where he and his wife and daughter make their home.
As at previous conferences, there will be books available for purchase at the event. More program and registration details will be forthcoming. Although membership is required to attend the conference, the society welcomes ALL fans of Updike and the dues ($30/year, $25/retirees, grad students) are affordable.
The John Updike Society is dedicated to awakening and sustaining reader interest in the literature and life of John Updike, promoting literature written by Updike, fostering and encouraging critical responses to Updike’s literary works, and, through The John Updike Childhood Home, preserving the history and telling the story of John Updike’s relationship with Shillington, Pa. and the influence that Berks County had on his literary works.