Cheerfulness saunters through Keillor’s daily routines and sifts through past recollections, even those that bring pain with the remembering. He touches on the fallout from Minnesota Public Radio cutting ties with him in 2018—it was “oddly liberating to be canceled,” in his words—and recalls the death by suicide as an adult of a childhood girlfriend, a tragedy that still leaves him breathless. His willingness to examine aging under the microscope is laudable, as he explores the feelings of obscurity that come with growing older and especially the change in status that comes with aging in America (once you’re past 70, he writes, you become ”a waste of good shelf space”).
But, as the title suggests, good cheer prevails. The more touching moments involve Keillor’s deep devotion to his wife and his musings on the lucky breaks he’s had throughout life—including the wonders of modern medicine that have gifted him longevity in spite of an inherited heart condition. His gratitude is often expressed through his spirituality, and his desire for meaning in his later years is palpable, as is his encouragement to fully embrace life. In his own words, “You’ll never get a life if you wait until you’re ready.”
Takeaway: Upbeat but clear-eyed look at aging and gratitude, with tongue in cheek.
Comparable Titles: Michael Kinsley’s Old Age, Jamie Varon’s Radically Content.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A