Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting
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Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting

4.3 24
by Michael Perry
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Michael Perry's website features a portrait of "the artist as a young man." The photograph pictures a small boy picking his nose. That sense of unpretentious realism is one of the reasons that readers find his lighthearted prose so appealing. Certainly, you couldn't find a more modest man; the author of Population 485 claims that he bases his writing career on the principle he learned cleaning pens: "Just keep shoveling, and eventually you've got a pile so big, someone will notice." However, Coop, his collection of rural Wisconsin reflections, possesses an aroma all its own. Perry's acute observations and writing skills give us access to a farmyard world that now seems remote to most of us, which only makes it more fascinating.
Publishers Weekly

Perry (Population: 485) is that nowadays rare memoirist whose eccentric upbringing inspires him to humor and sympathetic insight instead of trauma mongering and self-pity. His latest essays chronicle a year on 37 acres of land with his wife, daughters and titular menagerie of livestock (who are fascinating, exasperating personalities in their own right). But these luminous pieces meander back to his childhood on the hardscrabble Wisconsin dairy farm where his parents, members of a tiny fundamentalist Christian sect, raised him and dozens of siblings and foster-siblings, many of them disabled. Perry's latter-day story is a lifestyle-farming comedy, as he juggles freelance writing assignments with the feedings, chores and construction projects that he hopes will lend him some mud-spattered authenticity. Woven through are tender, uncloying recollections of the homespun virtues of his family and community, from which sprout lessons on the labors and rewards of nurturance (and the occasional need to slaughter what you've nurtured). Perry writes vividly about rural life; peck at any sentence-"One of the [chickens] stretches, one leg and one wing back in the manner of a ballet dancer warming up before the barre"-and you'll find a poetic evocation of barnyard grace. Photos. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
The author takes up farming and gathers memories after moving to a Wisconsin homestead with his wife and daughter. Though he grew up on a farm, Men's Health contributing editor Perry (Truck, 2006, etc.) doesn't pretend to be a son of the soil. He lives mostly in his head and through his eyes. His tasks around the farm are discreet enthusiasms and bemusements rather than vexing chores. He also has a complete set of anxieties, from his wife wanting a home birth for their impending child to making sure he doesn't deglove his hand-that is, remove all the tissue so that only the bones remain-in a whirling piece of machinery. At the beginning of this memoir, after gently reflecting on a slice of his past, Perry writes, "It would be sweet to noodle along in this minor key, but I'm stopping now"-then he noodles right on. He notes with affection that his wife can blow her nose without the aid of a hanky ("now there is a woman who can endure"), grimly ponders the axe-blow-to-BTU ratio of his woodcutting, experiences the winter night's air as "tin-pail cold against my nose" and stands rapt with his six-year-old daughter as their dog eats a dead rabbit. (He later has the bright idea of feeding some dead rabbits to his pigs.) He frequently thinks back on his farm childhood, marveling at how his devoutly religious parents made ends meet as they welcomed dozens of abandoned, mistreated or otherwise lost children into their home. Because Perry is an adept storyteller, he balances the sweeter sections with passages evoking the sting of loss and grief-not unduly, but enough to recall the impermanence of life and the swiftness of its transformations. Dryly humorous, mildly neurotic and just plain soulful-abook that might even make you want to buy a few chickens.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061240447
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/04/2010
Series:
P.S. Series
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
456,496
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485, as well as a novel, The Jesus Cow. He lives in northern Wisconsin with his family and can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com.

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Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Maertel 25 days ago
COOP shows Michael Perry's latest cruelty to animals - the manless and gutless "duty" of Pig Wrestling - combining with 'Slaughter Your Pets - that's the ticket!' So what that his Pigs are highly intelligent beautiful creatures who do not deserve this horrible chilling screaming fate. Perry's never ending off key self-depracating and, after a couple of books, downright, down home phony schtick rings really false this time. Far worse than the pigs you can smell a mile away, it just plain stinks.
Heather_Wietz More than 1 year ago
A very witty book. Well written. A five star book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael Perry has a light and refreshing view on the little things in life that make it worth living and has a nice sense of humor about it. I found this book by accident and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jill Schmoldt More than 1 year ago
I too from Wisconsin can relate to his dry midwestern wit. This book is akin to a neighborly chat over the fench. His wrighting is magical. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sandiek More than 1 year ago
After years of doing other jobs and living other places, Michael Perry knows just where he wants to be. At thirty-nine, after jobs in EMT and on the road as an author, he came home to his roots. He met Anneliese, a local college teacher, at a book signing. They got married and with her three year old daughter, started life as a family. Together they agreed that what they wanted was a return to the simple farming life they had known as children. They bought a small farm in Wisconsin near his family. Michael supports them as an author while Annaliese home-schools Amy. As the book starts, they are expecting their first child. Michael explores his childhood years. He grew up in a fundamenalist religion, in a family with eight birth children and a large group of foster siblings, some of whom were adopted. As best as anyone remembers, the family fostered sixty or more children, many of them disabled in varying degrees. His father had been a chemical engineer and his mother a nurse before they decided to farm. Michael grew up in poverty but surrounded by love and great life lessons. Now Michael and Anneliese attempt to recreate this loving atmosphere for the family they are building. The reader learns about the livestock they are raising, how they parent their child, the daily chores that consume their days, and about the baby they are expecting. Anneliese decides on a home birth, and while Michael agrees, it makes him nervous. This is such a soothing, gentle, wonderful book. It is like having an old friend stop by and sit on the front porch with you, rocking and telling stories. Perry does a great job of recreating his life as a new farm owner, and even for those readers who are adament city-dwellers, there is a hint of longing for his life. Readers can hear Michael talk about his new book. Michael Perry will be on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl on Monday, June 7th at 7pm EST at http://www.blogtalkradio.coom/book-club-firl/2010/06/07/michael-perry-discusses-coop This book is recommended for readers who need a break from the pressures of everyday life. It is a true gem. I loved it so much that I went out that day and ordered his first book, Truck, where he talks about his life before the farm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TLangton More than 1 year ago
What a fabulous book! I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an awesome summer read. I am a teacher and always save a special book to be my "first of the summer". This year Coop was that book and I am so glad it was! Michael Perry is an incredible writer who will appeal to both male and female readers. He writes about his personal experiences with the humor of the boy next door and language as beautiful as your favorite poet. You will laugh out loud and you will cry--there is something for everyone. You will be disappointed when you get to the last page--you will wish it would never end. I can't wait until Perry's next book comes out. If you have read Michael Perry's other books, you will not be disappointed--this book is even better than his others. If you have not read any of his books, congratulations--you will have something to do while you patiently wait for his next one!
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Ladeislaus More than 1 year ago
slow moving read but interesting
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I've always been grateful for the life lessons learned on the farm. There's nothing like the salt-of-the-earth, old-time farmer like Michael Perry's dad and his generation. This brought back so many memories and is an enlightening tale for city-borns to understand how simple yet complicated rural life can be. The tender moments and love of wife and family are incredibly beautiful and the funny moments are hilarious. Michael Perry's writing style is so conversational and you sometimes feel like you're sitting in the kitchen with him as he recounts his stories. Although I've been a city dweller for over 35 years, I'm still a farm girl at heart. If I close my eyes I can still hear the clank of the pig feeders in the dark of night. Every spring I need to dig in the dirt a little to plant flowers. I can't drive through the countryside without evaluating the crops, and I worry about the safety of farmers during the fall harvest. Farmers are the biggest risk-takers in the world. They invest in seed, fertilizer, equipment and fuel to plant a crop; not knowing if there will be enough rain or too much rain, enough heat or not enough heat, hail, wind, insects or anything that will affect their yield. They don't know if the growing season will be long enough for their crop to reach maturity, if the autumn weather will cooperate for harvest, or if there will be a reasonable market price to sell their bounty to make a profit. This cycle repeats itself every year, and most of the country has no appreciation for their labor. I've heard that Michael Perry's other books are equally entertaining and I anticipate reading them!
miatapaul More than 1 year ago
The introdution alone is one of the best peices of prose I have read in a long long time. Story is witty, enjoyable and enduring.