Author: Michael Perry
Synopsis: Loosely joined essays about being a professional writer and a volunteer EMT in a small Wisconsin farming town. And hovercrafts. (no eels.)
I read and really loved the book Truck (my review here), so when I noticed a new Michael Perry book on the library shelves, I snapped it up. I was hooked from the first sentence:
“Summer here comes on like a zafig hippie chick, jazzed on chlorophyll and flinging fistfuls of butterflies to the sun.”
Like Truck, it’s as much about the people and the land he lives with, as the fires and disasters that bring the volunteer fire department running.
I work with a lot of pre-med students, and I am trying frantically to figure out how I can make them read this book. Anyone who has an entire chapter titled “puke is the great constant” has a great deal to tell them about the reality of working with the sick and injured. :)
The book bounces back and forth from the emotional intensity of finding a friend at the end of an ambulance run to hilarious descriptions of “cheesehead Deliverance feebs” and other local characters.
He does a wonderful job of showing, not telling, how hard and dangerous farm work is–something too few of us appreciate as we’ve evolved into an urban society. It’s a book about belonging, and trying to belong. I hate to use the “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” tag line, but….you will.
Because I’m more of a show, not tell gal myself, I’ll end with this quote of his about writing:
The whole scene [poetry readings] makes me peaceful, although I throw a systolic spike whenever someone introduces a piece “given to me this afternoon.” As if poems drop from the sky pre-formed, like sparrow turds. In my experience, art is not to be awaited; it is to be chased down, cornered, and beaten into submission with a stick.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go beat up a manuscript this afternoon.