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About Michael Perry
Michael Perry is a New York Times bestselling author, humorist, playwright, and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin. For more information, go to www.sneezingcow.com.
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Titles By Michael Perry
“Part portrait of a place, part rescue manual, part rumination of life and death, Population: 485 is a beautiful meditation on the things that matter.” — Seattle Times
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, Perry 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, Population: 485 is a comic and sometimes heartbreaking true tale leavened with quieter meditations on an overlooked America.
New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and big-hearted tale, a comic yet sincere exploration of faith and the foibles of modern life that blends the barbed charm of Garrison Keillor, the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore, and the audacious insight of Chuck Klosterman.
Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”
Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door, and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and raise enough money to keep his land—and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?
Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and t-shirts. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.
The beloved memoirist and bestselling author of Population: 485 reflects on the lessons he’s learned from his unlikely alter ego, French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne.
"The journey began on a gurney," writes Michael Perry, describing the debilitating kidney stone that led him to discover the essays of Michel de Montaigne. Reading the philosopher in a manner he equates to chickens pecking at scraps—including those eye-blinking moments when the bird gobbles something too big to swallow—Perry attempts to learn what he can (good and bad) about himself as compared to a long-dead French nobleman who began speaking Latin at the age of two, went to college instead of kindergarten, worked for kings, and once had an audience with the Pope. Perry "matriculated as a barn-booted bumpkin who still marks a second-place finish in the sixth-grade spelling bee as an intellectual pinnacle . . . and once said hello to Merle Haggard on a golf cart."
Written in a spirit of exploration rather than declaration, Montaigne in Barn Boots is a down-to-earth (how do you pronounce that last name?) look into the ideas of a philosopher "ensconced in a castle tower overlooking his vineyard," channeled by a midwestern American writing "in a room above the garage overlooking a disused pig pen." Whether grabbing an electrified fence, fighting fires, failing to fix a truck, or feeding chickens, Perry draws on each experience to explore subjects as diverse as faith, race, sex, aromatherapy, and Prince. But he also champions academics and aesthetics, in a book that ultimately emerges as a sincere, unflinching look at the vital need to be a better person and citizen.
“Somewhere between Garrison Keillor’s idyllic-sweet Lake Wobegon and the narrow-mindedness of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street lies the reality of small-town life. This is where Michael Perry lives.”
—St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Perry can take comfort in the power of his writing, his ability to pull readers from all corners onto his Wisconsin spread, and make them feel right at home.”
Tuesdays with Morrie meets Bill Bryson in Visiting Tom, another witty, poignant, and stylish paean to living in New Auburn, Wisconsin, from Michael Perry. The author of Population: 485, Coop, and Truck: A Love Story, Perry takes us along on his uplifting visits with his octogenarian neighbor one valley over—and celebrates the wisdom, heart, and sass of a vanishing generation that embodies the indomitable spirit of small-town America.
“A touching and very funny account. . . . Thoroughly engaging.”—New York Times
Hilarious and heartfelt, Truck: A Love Story is the tale of a man struggling to grow his own garden, fix his old pickup, and resurrect a love life permanently impaired by Neil Diamond. In the process, he sets his hair on fire, is attacked by wild turkeys, and proposes marriage to a woman in New Orleans. The result is a surprisingly tender testament to love.
“Part Bill Bryson, part Anne Lamott, with a skim of Larry the Cable Guy and Walt Whitman creeping around the edges.”—Lincoln Journal Star
“Perry takes each moment, peeling it, seasoning it with rich language, and then serving it to us piping hot and fresh.”—Chicago Tribune
New York Times bestselling author, humorist, and newspaper columnist Michael Perry returns with a new collection of bite-sized essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, “Roughneck Grace.” Perry’s perspectives on everything from cleaning the chicken coop to sharing a New York City elevator with supermodels will have you snorting with laughter on one page, blinking back tears on the next, and--no matter your zip code--nodding in recognition throughout.
In over his head with two pigs, a dozen chickens, and a baby due any minute, the acclaimed author of Population: 485 gives us 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.
Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember meets Louis Sachar's Holes in this imaginative and humorous middle grade debut from Michael Perry, New York Times bestselling author of the adult novels Population: 485 and Truck: A Love Story.
When the world started to fall apart, the government gave everyone two choices: move into the Bubble Cities…or take their chances outside.
Maggie's family chose to live in the world that was left behind. Deciding it's time to grow up and grow tough, Maggie rechristens herself "Ford Falcon"—a name inspired by the beat-up car she finds at a nearby junkyard.
Ford's family goes to this junkyard to scavenge for things they can use or barter with the other people who live OutBubble. Her family has been able to survive this brave new world by working together. But when Ford comes home one day to discover her home ransacked and her family missing, she must find the strength to rescue her loved ones with the help of some unlikely friends.
The Scavengers is a wholly original tween novel that combines an action-packed adventure, a heartfelt family story, and a triumphant journey of self-discovery in a world where one person's junk is another person's key to survival. Katherine Applegate, author of the Newbery Medal winner The One and Only Ivan, raves: "Michael Perry pulls out all the stops in this colorful tale."
"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling."
The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."