Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Population: 485
and Truck: A Love Story
comes a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country.
Living in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse — faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home — Michael Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father. Whether he's remembering his younger days — when his city-bred parents took in sixty or so foster children while running a sheep and dairy farm — or describing what it's like to be bitten in the butt while wrestling a pig, Perry flourishes in his trademark humor. But he also writes from the quieter corners of his heart, chronicling experiences as joyful as the birth of his child and as devastating as the death of a dear friend.
"Because Perry is an adept storyteller, he balances the sweeter sections with passages evoking the sting of loss and grief....Dryly humorous, mildly neurotic and just plain soulful — a book that might even make you want to buy a few chickens." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[T]ypical Perry: written in an easygoing, talk-to-the-reader style, with a self-effacing sense of humor and an ability to conjure up vivid mental pictures with a few well-chosen words." Booklist
"Perry (Population: 485) is that nowadays rare memoirist whose eccentric upbringing inspires him to humor and sympathetic insight instead of trauma mongering and self-pity. His latest essays chronicle a year on 37 acres of land with his wife, daughters and titular menagerie of livestock (who are fascinating, exasperating personalities in their own right). But these luminous pieces meander back to his childhood on the hardscrabble Wisconsin dairy farm where his parents, members of a tiny fundamentalist Christian sect, raised him and dozens of siblings and foster-siblings, many of them disabled. Perry's latter-day story is a lifestyle-farming comedy, as he juggles freelance writing assignments with the feedings, chores and construction projects that he hopes will lend him some mud-spattered authenticity. Woven through are tender, uncloying recollections of the homespun virtues of his family and community, from which sprout lessons on the labors and rewards of nurturance (and the occasional need to slaughter what you've nurtured). Perry writes vividly about rural life; peck at any sentence 'One of the [chickens] stretches, one leg and one wing back in the manner of a ballet dancer warming up before the barre' and you'll find a poetic evocation of barnyard grace. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, the acclaimed author of Truck: A Love Story gives readers a humorous, heartfelt memoir of a new life in the country.
"Beneath the flannel surface of this deer-hunting, truck-loving Badger is the soul of a poet."
You'll find in this book a slender silver cord of smart contemplation about meaning and purpose."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"He's the real thing."
About the Author
Michael Perry is a contributing editor to Men's Health, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Salon, and The Utne Reader. He lives in northern Wisconsin with his family.