Garrison Keillor: I shouldn't say anything about this but -- Doris Lessing? The Nobel Prize for Literature? Has the Swedish Academy lost its mind? Have you?
Tim Russell: SWEDISH
GK: Have you ever read her book "The Grandmothers"? Two Grandmothers have romances with each others' teenaged sons. One of the most joyless books ever written about sex. Listen to this passage:
"She was all but nude. With a deep sigh, aimed at the gods, or some impartial viewer, she put on a pink feathered negligee, salvaged from a play's wardrobe: she had felt it was so her." "Oh Roz," said her husband. "Don't think I'm not sorry. I'm fond of you, you know that. I'll miss you like crazy. You're my pal. And you're the best lay I'm ever likely to have and I know that too. But I feel like a sort of shadow here. I don't matter. That's all."
How would you rate that as writing?
GK: With Doris Lessing, there are thousands of square miles of that sort of writing. She's like Greenland but without the melting.
GK: Why can't you ever give the Nobel Prize to a writer with a sense of humor and style? Why?
GK: Oh never mind.
Here's a poem for Doris Lessing.
Congratulations to you, Doris Lessing,
Though your work is no great blessing.
Dour, cranky, and bloody dull,
Most of it in fact unreadable.
The windows caked with gloom,
Long dark shadows in the room,
The characters whiny, the dialogue dark,
Of humor not one tiny spark,
Your wooden prose like classroom benches
Boring, painful, and pretentious.
But now that you are 88
The Swedes decided you are great.
You win the prize, the golden cup.
So finally will you LIGHTEN UP?
Sue Scott (DORIS): Huh? You want me to lighten up?
GK: Tell a joke or something.
SS (DORIS): A joke???? I don't tell jokes. I'm Doris Lessing.
GK: We know that. So tell one anyway.
SS (DORIS): Okay, so there's this husband and he's upstairs in the bedroom and he's dying of liver cancer. And he's in terrible pain and it's a dark day and cold and cloudy and he's never felt worse in his life, okay?
GK: Sounds like one of your books.
SS (DORIS): So he smells a beautiful lemon meringue pie. His favorite. His wife is baking in the kitchen. She's been away for twenty-five years but she came back because she didn't want to miss this. So the dying husband comes crawling down to the kitchen and he reaches for the lemon meringue pie and she whacks him over the head and she says, HEY -- THAT'S FOR THE FUNERAL SUPPER.
GK: Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize winner. (BAND PLAYOFF)