Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time

Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time

3.9 32
by Michael Perry
     
 

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Here 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

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Overview

Here 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, Mike 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, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
“Swells with unadorned heroism. He’s the real thing .”
Adrienne Miller
“This is a quietly devastating book—intimate and disarming and lovely.”
The New York Times
[Perry's] account of what he's learned from seven years of burning barns and midnight medevacs shows his obvious affection for a rural Midwestern world where ''visiting with'' someone means hours of shooting the breeze and a ''supper club'' is the height of sophistication. Perry confesses that his loyalties are divided between ''the Gun Rack Crowd and the Pale and Tortured Contingent'' -- yielding a narrative style that jolts between nicely downplayed redneck realism (''We went there because a woman thought she was having a heart attack. I believe what she was having was her 17th beer'') and sensitivo posturing (''We find a trail leading back over the landscape of time, and we find ourselves bearing forward the remnants of a distant aesthetic not immediately evident in our detritus, but ours to claim, nonetheless''). — Alida Becker
Publishers Weekly
When writer Perry returned to his tiny childhood town, New Auburn, Wisc., after 12 years away, he joined the village' s volunteer fire and rescue department. Six years later, he' d begun to understand at last that to truly live in a place, you must give your life to that place. These charming, discursive essays are loosely structured around the calls Perry responds to as a volunteer EMT, including everything from a collision at the local Laundromat to heart attacks, fires and suicides. Perry' s mosaic of smalltown life also paints charming portraits of the town' s memorable characters, such as the One-Eyed Beagle, another firefighter. Perry' s insights into the small-town mentality come from apparent contemplation, and he writes about them with good humor, in prose reminiscent of Rick Bragg' s: The old man says he had a woozy spell, and so he took some nitroglycerin pills. This is like saying you had high blood pressure so you did your taxes. In spite of an enormous surprise in the final chapter, the book' s lack of central conflict leaves it feeling desultory, like a collection of good magazine pieces rather than a propulsive chronicle of quirky small-towners la John Berendt' s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Still, there are moments in which Perry achieves an unforced lyricism: Rescue work is like jazz. Improvisation based on fundamentals. (Oct. 11) Forecast: A blurb from Michael Korda himself a recent aficionado of small-town living and the current hoopla surrounding volunteer firemen and EMT workers will attract buyers to Perry' s celebration of Middle America. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060958077
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/11/2003
Series:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.06(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Perry is a humorist and author of the adult bestselling memoirs Population: 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. This is his first novel for children. Michael lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters.

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