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Gary Keillor
Interactive Literature Selections

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Literary Tools

Description. Description is a type of writing that portrays a character, an object, or a scene. Descriptions make use of sensory details—words and phrases that describe how things look, sound, smell, taste, or feel. Garrison Keillor describes his classroom and the work he and his classmates were doing there in vivid sensory detail. As you read, make note of these details.

Irony. Irony is a difference between appearance and reality. In "Gary Keillor," the difference between Gary's description of his life, his thoughts, and his dreams and the reality of that life provides an ironic contrast and contributes to much of the humor of this story. As you read, notice the difference between the way Gary sees the situations in which he finds himself and the way we see those situations.

Reader's Resource

"Gary Keillor" is a fictional story based on the author's middle-class, Midwestern childhood in the 1950s. In it, Keillor tells of discovering his niche in life as a humorist while participating in a high-school talent show.

Culture Connection. The 1950s were a time of peace and prosperity in the United States. After serving in World War II, hundreds of thousands of men and women came home to attend college on the G.I. Bill, which for the first time made college affordable for a broad spectrum of the population. There were plenty of jobs to go around as the economy boomed, subdivisions sprang up in every town, and the baby boom took off. Optimism about the future was high, and it seemed that anything was possible—both for America, and for the average American. Rock and roll music was popular, especially that of superstar Elvis Presley, who skyrocketed to fame in the 1950s and 60s. His hit "All Shook Up" is mentioned in this story by Garrison Keillor.

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As you read, make a cluster chart, listing examples of ironic humor in the story.

readers journal
When have you been the "star of the show"?

Prereading page
About the Author page
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Vocabulary from the Selection page
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