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Book End

ME By Garisson Keillor Viking 176pp. $15.95

A lot of people seem to be out to body slam the Minnesota governor and ex-wrestler, sometimes good-naturedly, sometimes with an edge.

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First there was the challenge by New Mexico's Senate. Touting its governor Ironman triathlete Gary Johnson as a "real athlete," it challenged Jesse Ventura to a no-holds-barred match. His response: "Surely, the New Mexico legislature has better things to do than promote wrestling matches."

And last month, Ventura said on the David Letterman show that St. Paul's streets must have been laid out by drunken Irishmen. He apologized, but the City Council retorted that the streets were designed to "keep wrestlers and other undesirables out."

Now comes the satire by that other Minnesota icon, Lake Wobegon creator Garrison Keillor. It's about a former pro wrestler named Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente, who's elected governor of Minnesota.

There are some funny lines, like when Valente calls in the "sweat-seeking cruise missiles" during a wrestling match. Or when a fellow wrestler advises Valente to polish his act by using a thesaurus to "piece together new expressions, like 'malodorous moron' and 'nefarious nincompoop.' "

But Keillor never really uses satire to make a point or delve into why Minnesotans elected Ventura. Instead his apparent opinion of Ventura as a lightweight fluke pervades the book.

Maybe Ventura will have to use his post-election line a little longer: About an ex-wrestler being elected, he said simply: "Get over it."

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