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The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir

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Overview

What happens when two New Yorkers (one an ex?drag queen) do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of kids, and get a little dirty?

Find out in this riotous and moving true tale of goats, mud, and a centuries-old mansion in rustic upstate New York?the new memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of the New York Times bestseller I Am Not Myself These Days. A happy series of accidents and a doughnut-laden escape upstate take Josh and his partner, Brent, to the doorstep of the ...

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The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir

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Overview

What happens when two New Yorkers (one an ex–drag queen) do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of kids, and get a little dirty?

Find out in this riotous and moving true tale of goats, mud, and a centuries-old mansion in rustic upstate New York—the new memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of the New York Times bestseller I Am Not Myself These Days. A happy series of accidents and a doughnut-laden escape upstate take Josh and his partner, Brent, to the doorstep of the magnificent (and fabulously for sale) Beekman Mansion. One hour and one tour later, they have begun their transformation from uptight urbanites into the two-hundred-year-old-mansion-owning Beekman Boys.

Suddenly, Josh—a full-time New Yorker with a successful advertising career—and Brent are weekend farmers, surrounded by nature's bounty and an eclectic cast: roosters who double as a wedding cover band; Bubby, the bionic cat; and a herd of eighty-eight goats, courtesy of their new caretaker, Farmer John. And soon, a fledgling business, born of a gift of handmade goat-milk soap, blossoms into a brand, Beekman 1802.

The Bucolic Plague is tart and sweet, touching and laugh out loud funny, a story about approaching middle age, being in a long-term relationship, realizing the city no longer feeds you in the same way it used to, and finding new depths of love and commitment wherever you live.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

One blossoming trend in biographies might be called memoirs of incongruity. Browsing our shelves, I'm certain you can spot a few: A pampered suburbanite finds meaning in a Third World country. A freethinker spends a year at a fundamentalist college. A farm girl learns the ropes of living in the Big Apple. The latest true tale of radical transitions is The Bucolic Plague, Josh Kilmer-Purcell's candid memoir about how a New York advertising art director by day, former drag queen by night becomes a successful, albeit unconventional upstate goat farmer. Not your average city slicker comedy; winningly unpretentious; often laugh out loud hilarious. Now in paperback and a NOOK Edition. (Hand-selling tip: Author Kilmer-Purcell also wrote the equally incongruous I Am Not Myself These Days.)

Publishers Weekly
Raised in rural Wisconsin, Kilmer-Purcell moved to Manhattan to work in advertising in the 1990s. In his memoir I Am Not Myself These Days, he wrote about moonlighting as a nightclub drag queen. Now he recalls how he and his partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, a Martha Stewart Omni Media v-p, became weekend farmers after purchasing the 19th-century Beekman Mansion on 60 acres near the “hauntingly beautiful” town of Sharon Springs, N.Y. Kilmer-Purcell writes with dramatic flair and trenchant wit, uncovering mirthful metaphors as he plows through their daily experiences, meeting neighbors, signing on caretaker Farmer John, herding goats, canning tomatoes, and digging a garden, as they fix up the 205-year-old house. Cleverly contrasting ad agency life with rustic barn mucking, he must choose: “I just can’t face spending the rest of my life behind a desk selling dish soap to Middle America. Hell, I want to be Middle America.” This entertaining book gets an extra big boost from the forthcoming Beekman Farm, a Planet Green documentary TV series about the dynamic duo’s eco-adventures scheduled to air this spring. (June)
Food & Wine
“The witty new memoir from Josh Kilmer-Purcell.”
Armistead Maupin
“I gobbled up this book like…well, like goat cheese on a cracker. Kilmer-Purcell’s genius lies in his ability to blindside the reader with heart-wrenching truths in the midst of the most outlandish scenarios. He makes you laugh until you care.”
Whole Living
“A hilarious memoir.”
USA Today
“Enter 60 goats and homemade soap, apple-picking and an heirloom vegetable garden. Hilarity follows. And trouble. But let’s not spoil the party. It’s fun.”
The Stranger (Seattle)
“Always entertaining and often moving.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Bucolic Plague has something different to offer—if we can do it anyone can, it tells us, provided we can laugh at ourselves.”
New York Times Book Review
“My Amtrak seat mate in the Quiet Car, a complete stranger, insisted that I read out loud the scene — a goat in labor — that was making me laugh so hard I was crying. . . . Kilmer-Purcell’s book is manically funny, sweetly open and trusting, and slick and snarky.”
New York Times
“Kilmer-Purcell fertilizes this narrative until it reeks of charm.”
Wall Street Journal
“Side-splitting.”
Wisconsin State Journal
“Baby goats, diarrhea, and Martha Stewart. Former drag queen turned goat farmer Josh Kilmer-Purcell begins his latest book, The Bucolic Plague, with a hilarious vignette involving all three. Clearly, the man has an interesting story to tell.”
Alice Waters
“I adore the Beekman boys’ story. Their unlikely story of love, the land, and a herd of goats is hilariously honest. If these two can go from Manhattan to a goat farm in upstate New York, then I can’t help feeling there is hope for us all.”
Alison Smith
“A delicious book about two city boys who buy a farm, fall in love with a herd of goats, and attempt to revive the American dream. . . . Never has mucking out a stall been more scintillating!”
From the Publisher
"Kilmer-Purcell fertilizes this narrative until it reeks of charm." —-The New York Times
Library Journal
Kilmer-Purcell, best-selling author of I Am Not Myself and Candy Everybody Wants, recounts how he and his partner, Brent Ridge, fell in love and came to buy a farm in upstate New York. Longtime urbanites by nature and habit, they found themselves attracted to and somewhat serendipitously owners of the Beekman Mansion. Fans of both Oprah and Martha Stewart, they quickly became fully involved with renovating the house and turning it into an organic business making soap and lotion. Reality eventually sets in, and the strain tests their relationship. Johnny Heller, who has won two Audie Awards, narrates with good humor. This audiobook is recommended for listeners who are fans of David Sedaris, Stewart, and memoirs.—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence
Kirkus Reviews
A former drag queen swaps his pumps for work boots and life on a remote farm. After retiring his alter ego in favor of an advertising career and a serious relationship, Kilmer-Purcell (Candy Everybody Wants, 2008, etc.) and his partner Brent, the "resident health and wellness expert" for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, became instantly enchanted with Sharon Springs, a charming, upstate New York town they discovered by accident during a yearly apple-picking excursion. Their adoration spawned the purchase of the historic Beekman Mansion, a million-dollar monstrosity built in 1802, replete with seven working fireplaces, a crypt and 60 acres of farmland. As both men were raised conservatively, the joint purchase of this "second home" was extravagant and indulgent, though Kilmer-Purcell admits to seeing his future "as promising as a roll of free drink tickets once was to me." Aided by John, their trusty "co-farmer," along with the camaraderie of friendly locals, the couple began raising turkeys, dairy goats, a Holstein bull calf, a vegetable garden and a goat's-milk soap business, which exploded after a promotion on a Martha Stewart segment. A cavalcade of farming misadventures followed, all recounted in the author's droll, deadpan delivery. (The countless Martha Stewart references, however, come across as arrogant.) Eventually, the pastoral joys of country life, and Brent's unexpected layoff, took their toll on the couple's nearly-ten-year relationship. An apprehensive visit from a New York Times reporter helped leaven the mood, before the pair considered selling the farm as Kilmer-Purcell lamented, "Had this all been one big folly?"Though a well-worn theme, this particular merging of city and country is both sweet and savory. Author appearances in the New York tristate area
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061997839
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 138,449
  • Product dimensions: 7.78 (w) x 5.36 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Josh Kilmer-Purcell is the bestselling author of the memoir I Am Not Myself These Days and the novel Candy Everybody Wants, and the star of the television docu-series The Fabulous Beekman Boys. He and his partner, Brent Ridge, divide their time between Manhattan and the Beekman Farm.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 125 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(79)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 126 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 22, 2012

    Thoroughly enjoyable read

    I enjoyed reading about their journey and the honesty in which they portrayed just how difficult it is to actually pull off buying and maintaining a mansion and a farm in NY state, while still maintaining a residence in NYC and holding down two jobs in the city during the week as well.

    Josh's wry sense of wit and humor kept me smiling throughout and I really felt for them as the situation eventually had the potential to melt down their relationship. What started out as a romantic notion of having a place in the country and living off the land, turned out to be anything but glamorous and a ton of work and dedication. I wish I could pull off something like this!

    The hilarity of the first few chapters pulled me in, but the writing style is what kept me engaged in the book. Totally enjoyed the read and look forward to reading other works by him.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

    Charming Real Life Story - couldn't put the book down

    As a New Yorker, I completely identified with the desire to escape the city and create your "dream life" with farmland and fresh air. I appreciated the honesty of how hard it was to make that dream work as the economy tanked. The witty voice that Josh uses and the levity that punctuates what must have been a trying story makes this a great read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Highly recommend

    I thorough enjoyed reading this book. There are some marvelous realizations on the part of the author throughout this experience that many people could use as lessons. And there are some seriously funny laugh out loud moments that nearly had me in stitches.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

    I was fortunate enough to catch the series on television first - otherwise I probably would never have even thought of reading this. I laughed out loud. Personally, I would love to move to this community because it sounds so colorful. I would not recommend reading this at bedtime because you will start laughing until you are in tears and you won't want to put it down but keep reading. Absolutely delightful!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Great Read

    This is a wonderful book. I loved reading it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Wonderful read!

    Fantastic

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2011

    Wonderful, funny and sincere.

    I love this book. I laughed from the very beginning and teared up some also.

    I read it first and then my husband. When he would laugh or sigh I knew exactly where he was in the book.

    I then shared it with my two dear friends one of which took it to work and would read from it to his coworkers.

    MORE PLEASE

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

    Simply fabulous

    This is a wonderful book, beautifully written, entertaining, and funny. I had heard of the Beekman Boys before but didn't know much about them. Now I am a confirmed and enthusiastic fan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013

    LOVED it...

    I loved the humor, and the truth behind the journey.. interesting to me was how they changed perspectives

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2013

    Wonderful light reading

    Interesting and funny!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Great book

    This was an all around great book. There were several parts that i actually laughed out loud, a rare occurrence for me.
    It was well edited and in good form. I learned some things from this book!
    Being a bit of a homophobe i was worried there would be graphic sex scenes, but on the contrary i actually found the partners and their love for each other to be very endearing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 19, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    "The Bucolic Plague" shines a bright light into the re

    "The Bucolic Plague" shines a bright light into the realistic and problematic issues in running a farm with sparse experience while navigating a relationship that,on paper, is completely marred. I watched their series and enjoyed the fun and romance that permeated their existence on the farm. The book tells of the difficulties of realizing one's dream while sacrificing another's. I was surprised to hear of the near dissolution of Brent and Josh over the nuances of everyday living. After reading the book, I rewatched the show on Netflix and had a new appreciation for their struggles and quarks. Josh's memoir "I Am Not Myself These Days" is a perfect companion piece to "The Bucolic Plague." Read this book and enjoy how simple your own life is compared to two high rising New York gays living their dreams and realizing just how hard goats are to deal with. Can't wait for another channel to pick up the show for all new adventures.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Great book!

    Made me laugh and smile. This memoir is a great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Highly addicting!

    This book grabbed my attention and hooked me fast!!!! I LOVED it! I really hope a sequel is coming to this book because I need more. Josh and Brent are such a sweet couple and I loved all the people in Sharon Springs. A visit to Sharon Springs is now on my bucket list :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2012

    Love happy stories that end up happy.

    A story that leaves us all thinking if we work hard enough.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A quick, quirky, happy-making read...

    By now, many of you will have heard already of the Beekman Boys on Planet Green's Reality TV show, but I hadn't until now. The truth is that this memoir is so hilarious and yet so real, in a you-and-me-and-a-drag-queen sort of way, that I couldn't put the darn thing down. It is a lovely fairy tale about the wonders of country living. I've been guilty of dreams of domestic bliss and the homemade life more than once myself, but these guys do it bigger and better than I would or could. It's no wonder the town embraced them and their 88 goats.

    Without a doubt, highlights of the story include a Martha Stewart Peony Party at her homestead near New York City, the fare reduction ad campaign that was created in less than five minutes, and the first time a crew went to the Beekman house to shoot a reality show. Now there really is a TV show, but it was not at all obvious that this would be the case when the idea was first explored:
    "At some point during the morning, I realized that the most exciting moment of our potential reality show would be the copyright notice in the credits. To compensate, I came to the conclusion that if I ran everywhere-physically moved my body faster-the film might seem more engaging. I galloped out the end of the drive to get the mail. I trotted to the garage to grab a trowel.For even more" sizzle," instead of simply leading the goats out to graze as we usually did, I raced out in front of them, hollering an improvisational goat call that made me sound like a yodeling hillbilly. I turned back toward the barn and saw that the goats had stayed back, huddled together in fear in the barn doorway. They obviously preferred to skip dinner rather than get too close to the retarded scarecrow suffering a grand mal seizure."

    Do yourselves a favor and don't wait for major surgery to take the chance to read this book. It's funny, heartwarming, recognizable, and real. You'll be glad there are folks like this around, and you'll wish they lived nearby.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 30, 2011

    I was so surprised

    I was laughing outloud with 5 min into this biok! So wonderful! I am telling everone i know about this bk. Cant wait to read josh' s other books' Candis,, fl

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  • Posted May 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Kilmer-Purcell makes goat-herding sparkle...READ THIS

    I had this book in my library and, without reading it myself, lent it to a family member to help her through a difficult surgery. She never returned it, but when I read Dawn's review of her pilgrimage to Sharon Springs on her blog called She is Too Fond of Books, I went to get it back that very day. I'm so glad I did. It would have been perfect for the sick family member, had she read it, but she didn't and I did. It was perfect for me, too. What a wonderful, funny, painful, knowing memoir of a pair of busy city executives finding a "weekend retreat" in upstate New York (Sharon Springs) that turns into a full-time job and lifestyle change. Not ordinary executives, not an ordinary town.and not an ordinary house. By now, many of you will have heard already of the Beekman Boys on Planet Green's Reality TV show, but I hadn't until now. The truth is that this memoir is so hilarious and yet so real, in a you-and-me-and-a-drag-queen sort of way, that I couldn't put the darn thing down. It is a lovely fairy tale about the wonders of country living. I've been guilty of dreams of domestic bliss and the homemade life more than once myself, but these guys do it bigger and better than I would or could. It's no wonder the town embraced them and their 88 goats. Without a doubt, highlights of the story include a Martha Stewart Peony Party at her homestead near New York City, the fare reduction ad campaign that was created in less than five minutes, and the first time a crew went to the Beekman house to shoot a reality show. Now there really is a TV show, but it was not at all obvious that this would be the case when the idea was first explored: "At some point during the morning, I realized that the most exciting moment of our potential reality show would be the copyright notice in the credits. To compensate, I came to the conclusion that if I ran everywhere-physically moved my body faster-the film might seem more engaging. I galloped out the end of the drive to get the mail. I trotted to the garage to grab a trowel.For even more" sizzle," instead of simply leading the goats out to graze as we usually did, I raced out in front of them, hollering an improvisational goat call that made me sound like a yodeling hillbilly. I turned back toward the barn and saw that the goats had stayed back, huddled together in fear in the barn doorway. They obviously preferred to skip dinner rather than get too close to the retarded scarecrow suffering a grand mal seizure." Do yourselves a favor and don't wait for major surgery to take the chance to read this book. It's funny, heartwarming, recognizable, and real. You'll be glad there are folks like this around, and you'll wish they lived nearby. And check out their website.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 10, 2011

    Great Read!!!

    "She's not a goat. She's a clown car."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    Fun read!

    This book takes you from Manhattan to Sharon Springs, from Martha to Farmer John, from city glamour to country charm. We are weekend farmers in this beautiful part of New York State and also 'suffer' from the Buccolic Plague...but even if you just dream of country life from time to time this book is for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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