Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485), where the local vigilante is a farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew up here, and now -- after a decade away -- he has returned.
Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy. Tracing his calls on a map in the little firehouse, he sees "a dense, benevolent web, spun one frantic zigzag at a time" from which the story of a tiny town emerges, building to a final chapter that is at once devastating and transcendent.
"Quietly devastating...intimate and disarming and lovely."
"Often funny, sometimes heartbreaking, but always full of life, characters and the tangled web of small-town history, daily drama, and strain of occasional weirdness that make country living such a challenge and an adventure....A joy of a book."
Michael Korda, author of Country Matters
After a twelve-year absence, a real-life prodigal son returns to his hometown New Auburn, Wisconsin, population: 485 and joins the volunteer fire and rescue department. In a place where men post claims of manhood on their truck bumpers, where the local vigilante is a farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, and where the most senior firefighter is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), writer Michael Perry sets out "to meet my neighbors at the invitation of the fire siren." The emergencies are real, the settings are surreal, and with each foray into the boondocks, we piece together the history of a people and a place. By turns fiery and funny, violent and gentle, Population: 485 is the true account of a search for rootedness in a place from the past.
Swells with unadorned heroism. He' s the real thing .
About the Author
Michael Perry was raised on a small dairy farm near New Auburn, Wisconsin, and put himself through nursing school working as a cowboy in Wyoming. As of this writing, he is the only member of the New Auburn Area Fire Department to have missed the monthly meeting because of a poetry reading.