Thursday, February 26, 2009

Garrison Keillor Remembers Bill Holm

Bill Holm was a great supporter of the store, and we are all shocked and saddened by news of his death. We thought we would share Garrison's thoughts on the loss of his friend.

Bill Holm was a great man and unlike most great men he really looked like one. Six-foot-eight, big frame, and a big white beard and a shock of white hair, a booming voice, so he loomed over you like a prophet and a preacher, which is what he was. He was an only child, adored by his mother, and she protected him from bullies, and he grew up free to follow his own bent and become the sage of Minneota, a colleague of Whitman though born a hundred years too late, a champion of Mozart and Bach, playing his harpsichord on summer nights, telling stories about the Icelanders, and thundering about how the young have lost their way and abandoned learning and culture in favor of grease and noise. He thundered with the best of them though he had a gentle heart. He was an English prof who really loved literature, and he could buttonhole you and tell you he'd just finished reading Dickens again and how wonderful it was. He got himself into print pretty well, and anyone picking up his "Windows of Brimnes" or "The Music of Failure" or "The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere On Earth" will get the real Holm. He hated Minnesota winters and maybe that's what killed him, flying back from beautiful Patagonia to the windswept tundra and thinking about having to shovel out his house in Minneota. I'm glad he got to see Barack elected, which restored some of his faith in his countrymen. I wish I'd been there to catch him as he fell. I hope his Icelandic ancestors are waiting to welcome him to their rocky corner of heaven. I hope his piano goes to someone who will love it as much as he did. I hope that people all across Minnesota will pick up one of his books and see what the man had to say.

1 comment:

Patti Isaacs said...

Someone once said that Americans all want to go to heaven, but we don't want to die to get there. Bill understood down to his bones that there were no shortcuts to a full life, and he laid it all out in The Music of Failure. I have read and reread this book and will read it again whenever I need to be reminded of what it possible in life.

It's reassuring to know that although I will no longer be able to be in the room to watch Bill work his mischief in person, I can sit in a chair with one of his books and get a peek into his giant heart and massive intellect.

Bill, you made the world a better place!