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Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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  • Posted August 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Michael and his family live on a farm in rural Wisconsin. At the

    Michael and his family live on a farm in rural Wisconsin. At the present, he is earning a living as a writer but he has not lost touch with his family’s deep agricultural roots. His first visit to his present neighbor’s, Tom Hartwig, kitchen was “a place I’d never visited, but I knew where I was.” The book he has written about his 82-year-old neighbor has the feel of that first “kitchen” visit – warm, direct, informative, humorous, and homey – it speaks directly to one’s soul.
    Tom Hartwig’s family has farmed the land he now inhabits for over 150 years. His great-grandparents having built the farmhouse in which he lives when they settled there in the mid-1800’s. In the 1970’s, the state of Wisconsin determined a new interstate highway was needed, the path of which was through the Hartwig farm. The Right-of-Way made an “island” of 35 acres of once productive farmland and condemned 18 acres of the farm for “Eminent Domain.” This roadway now passes within 100 yards of his storage silo. For the past 40 years, the Hartwigs have thrived in their lives with 8 million vehicles a year passing within a throw distance from his property.
    Mr. Hartwig is the quintessential Mid-Western farmer. He tinkers with more projects than a kindergarten class, has encyclopedic knowledge of military armory and is the go-to person in his county when someone needs any welding done. A tour around his farm gives the reader a glimpse into the diversity of his talents. On the drive up to the house, one is met by staring down the barrel of a working cannon (he creates and fires working scale replicas of such). His barn is filled with his creations: a welding unit, grain reaper, snow blower, etc. His chronological age is not reflected by his actions; he is in constant motion and continues to actively farm. This is the kind of person everyone wants as a neighbor but few of us are blessed to have.
    This is a story of being neighborly, sustaining one’s Self, defining “Self” from within and how family, once again, includes those with whom we do not share DNA. The author achieves his goal of “involving” the reader by writing from the 1st person perspective (without undue personal assessments) and by having a sharp eye, inquisitive mind and the ability to translate his experience into good prose. The author’s admiration for his neighbor is evident and justified.
    There are no vulgarities, sexual situations or violence to be found in this book, any of that would not be “neighborly.” This is the first of Mr. Perry’s books I have read, but it will not be the last. I like “sittin’ a spell” with him.

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  • Posted August 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Down on the Farm! Framing the human American existence.

    This is a well written chronicle of American life. It is not a novel but an annotation of life in rural America. Michael Perry writes from the heart and pens words of sincerity, honesty, and clarity to describe relationships to honor peoples' existence.
    The only negatives come from our relationships with government and how we let "IT" change our lives but not without putting up resistance. Even these descriptions are telling and straight forward.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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