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Garrison Keillor resting at Mayo following minor stroke

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Midday's Gary Eichten and Garrison Keillor
Midday's Gary Eichten talks with Garrison Keillor during MPR Day at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday, September 4, 2009.
MPR Photo/Steve Mullis

Public radio humorist Garrison Keillor is resting comfortably at the Mayo clinic after suffering a minor stroke.

Just last week, appearing on the Midday program at the Minnesota State Fair Garrison Keillor talked about his heavy work load. In addition to publicizing a new book, he's been preparing for the new season on a Prairie Home Companion. He said, as a writer who is getting older, it's something he has to do.

"Around the time other people are retiring, a writer has to go harder, because your main asset is your memory," Keillor said. "And once you start to lose that you become more or less an inert object."

It was tongue in cheek at the time, but now his joke rings a little hollow.

In a statement released this afternoon, Keillor said he drove himself to the ER at United Hospital in St. Paul on Labor Day after feeling ill in the morning. Doctors diagnosed a minor stroke.

He described his care at United as "excellent," but was transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester simply, as he put it "because they know so much more about me down here." Mayo surgeons replaced a faulty valve in Keillor's heart in 2001.

In his statement Keillor said: "I am in the hands of smart and compassionate people and plan to get out on Friday and get right back to work." He then ran down his to-do list which includes recording a new audio book, lecture engagements and the book tour.  

"I have my laptop with me," he said, "and I am at work on the long-awaited Lake Wobegon screenplay. And that's the news from here." 

It's because of that laptop that word got out about Keillor's illness.  He reportedly posted he was in the hospital on his Facebook page. That initial post  was later taken down and replaced by a statement he was at an undisclosed location. His page is now filled with get well messages from other Facebook users. 

A statement from the Mayo Clinic's Karl Oesterich said Keillor is up and moving around, and speaking sensibly. Oesterich said he will be released on Friday and plans to resume a normal schedule next week.  

That includes preparing the first show in the new season of Prairie Home at the Fitzgerald Theater on Sept. 26, accompanied by the now traditional street dance and meatloaf supper. It will likely include one of Keillor's great loves, public singing, as he showed at the State Fair.