Before there was "tourism" and souvenir ashtrays became "kitsch," the Lake of the Ozarks was a Shangri-La for middle-class Midwestern families on vacation. It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the Sixties working at Arrowhead Lodge-a small resort owned by his bombastic uncle. What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era that shaped Bill into the man he is today.
Writers are often not generous, especially to people who cover the same turf, but I’m stepping aside, flourishing my hat in a princely bow and declaring Bill Geist the reigning Zeit-Geist of the baby boomer generation. In his charming new book, he has perfectly captured what middle-class life was like in the midcentury American Midwest ... This is a memoir that could have slithered off the road with colorful characters flattened to 'Hee Haw' hillbilly stereotypes. Geist avoids that, while also nimbly sidestepping the kind of groan-inducing lecture given to teenagers by people his age ... If you’re looking for a book with crazy plot twists and a supersonic narrative arc, this one may not be for you. It’s a slow meditation on a time gone by. Like a photograph whose Kodachrome has started to turn sepia, it may not be modern or high-tech but it’s a meaningful and accurate rendering of times past.
In this memoir, Geist takes readers back to those bygone days, sharing his escapades of what life was like for a young man with few experiences under his belt. The author often uses folksy humor to contrast those times with today ... Geist’s writing is consistently nostalgic as he shows how those carefree summers helped mold him into the man he became. The book is a quick, pleasant read that effectively reflects how his time at the lodge showed him that 'life is more difficult and rewarding and fun when you manage to do things your way.' Old-fashioned, wistful stories that will appeal to fans of Geist’s previous books.
Humorist and former CBS correspondent Geist follows up Way Off the Road with another enjoyable look at an offbeat corner of the U.S., the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri ... Geist’s entertaining account of life in a resort town in the 1960s will certainly resonate with folks of his generation, and will offer younger readers a glimpse into a bygone era.