Bill Geist – Lake of the Ozarks

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, complete with man-made beaches, Hillbilly Mini Golf, and feathered rubber tomahawks.

It was there that author Bill Geist spent summers in the ’60s during his school and college years working at Arrowhead Lodge – a small resort owned by his bombastic uncle – in all areas of the operation, from cesspool attendant to bellhop.

What may have seemed just a summer job became, upon reflection, a transformative era where a cast of eccentric, small-town characters and experiences shaped (some might suggest “slightly twisted”) Bill into the man he is today. He realized it was this time in his life that had a direct influence on his sensibilities, his humor, his writing, and ultimately a career searching the world for other such untamed creatures for the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, and CBS News.

In Lake of the Ozarks, Emmy Award-winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Bill Geist reflects on his coming of age in the American heartland and traces his evolution as a man and a writer. He shares laugh-out-loud anecdotes and tongue-in-cheek observations guaranteed to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia for “the good ol’ days”. Written with Geistian wit and warmth, Lake of the Ozarks takes listeners back to a bygone era and demonstrates how you can find inspiration in the most unexpected places.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Author: Bill Geist
Narrator: Bill Geist, Allan Robertson
Duration: 4 hours 49 minutes
Released: 19 Jul 2005
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Language: English

User Review:

analysis dictatorial

I realize its unfair to judge an era fifty years in the past by todays norms. But living now and reading about then, its impossible to not draw comparisons. I was expecting kind of a rosy nostalgic memoir but Bill Geist doesnt shy away from some of the seedy, even a smidge scandalous, details of his summers in the sixties working for his uncle in the Ozarks.

His Uncle Ed made money hand over foot, but paid his mostly teen staff between a dollar and five dollars a day. His uncle spent most of his days barking orders, partying on his boat, and drinking. He always drove new Cadillacs, took yearly trips to Europe, and yet provided rather dismal living quarters for his employees.

But Bill Geist, and the other teen employees returned summer after summer…for the freedom of being away from home, saving hundreds of dollars in tips for college, summer romance, parties, drinking, and maybe doing a bit of growing up between high school and college. And with all his flaws, everyone single one of them seemed to have both fondness and respect for Uncle Ed, a WWII veteran, a man of few words, zero tolerance for self pity, and a huge heart for matchmaking.

Bill Geist credits his summers there for giving him his work ethic, honing his comedic skills, and giving him some much needed practice with just being around girls. The cast of characters from Uncle Ed and Aunt Janet, to the alcoholic chef, to the wealthy married guy who came to party on his boat every weekend, sans his wife, but surrounded by women, are memorable. The tales of cigarette ashes in the salad and the open air septic tank are queasy making. The book overall is a good read, probably geared mostly toward folks that lived at least a few years in that era, I dont think someone who is 20 today would relate to this book.

The photos in the provided PDF are very cool, tho I do not understand why they are in black and white and the photos in the book are in color.

The narration is a bit uneven, Bill Geist narrates the first section, then another, quite good narrator takes over, then Bill Geist returns, then Bill and his son Wille chat after the book ends. There is nothing wrong with Bills narration, its just that it feels a bit jarring to go from him to the other gentleman, and then back.