Truck: A Love Story [NOOK Book]


The author of Population: 485 returns, delivering a truckload of humor, heart, and . . . gardening tips? Think Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, complete with stock cars, sexy vegetables, and a laugh track.

"All I wanted to do was fix my old pickup truck," says Michael Perry. "That, and plant my garden. Then I met this woman. . . ." Truck: A Love Story recounts a year in which Perry struggles to grow his own food ("Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled ...

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Truck: A Love Story

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The author of Population: 485 returns, delivering a truckload of humor, heart, and . . . gardening tips? Think Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, complete with stock cars, sexy vegetables, and a laugh track.

"All I wanted to do was fix my old pickup truck," says Michael Perry. "That, and plant my garden. Then I met this woman. . . ." Truck: A Love Story recounts a year in which Perry struggles to grow his own food ("Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Penthouse combined"), live peaceably with his neighbors (one test-fires his black powder rifle in the alley; another's best Sunday shirt reads 100 PERCENT WHUP-ASS), and sort out his love life. But along the way, he sets his hair on fire, is attacked by wild turkeys, takes a date to the fire department chicken dinner, and proposes marriage to a woman in New Orleans. As with Population: 485, much of the spirit of Truck: A Love Story may be found in the characters Perry meets: a one-eyed land surveyor, a paraplegic biker who rigs a sidecar so that his quadriplegic pal can ride along, a bartender who refuses to sell light beer, an enchanting woman who never existed, and half the staff of National Public Radio.

By turns hilarious and heartfelt, a tale that begins on a pile of sheep manure, detours to the Whitney Museum of American Art, and returns to the deer-hunting swamps of northern Wisconsin, Truck: A Love Story becomes a testament to the surprising and unintended consequences of love.1006

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"All I wanted to do was fix my old pickup truck. That, and plant a little vegetable garden. Then I met this woman…." As every good mechanic knows, romance can throw a wrench into the best-laid garage plans, but Mike Perry struggles on, attempting to balance the claims of Eros and a well-tuned engine. Truck: A Love Story answers the question: What can the author of Population: 485 possibly do for an encore?
Publishers Weekly
A part-time emergency medical technician, Perry delivers the latest account of his somewhat idiosyncratic life and times in a small Wisconsin town ("I am happy to live in a place where I can chuck a washing machine out my back door and no one judges my behavior unusual"). Here, he focuses on two main events over the course of a year: fixing up a 1951 International Harvester pickup truck and developing a romance with a local woman after a long stretch of failed relationships. Never cloying, Perry is a wry observer of how success in both areas "is the result of a modest accumulation of lucky breaks and the kindness of others," and displays the storytelling and observational skills that made his first book, Population: 485, such a success. One of his most memorable descriptions is of an ex-patient, Ozzie, a motorcycle-loving ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, who gets to ride again after his wheelchair is hooked up to the cycle of his paraplegic friend Pat-"You haven't really explored the outer limits of health care until you've watched a Hell's Angel suction a tracheotomy tube." (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A year in the life of a man and his truck. The vehicle used by country chronicler Perry (Off Main Street, 2005, etc.) is his 1951 L-120 International Harvester pickup, altogether rusted and busted. The best repair, he's told, "would be to jack up the radiator cap and drive a new truck in under it!" But Perry resurrects the handsome old L-120. In this vivid Wisconsin Book of Days, the truck is put to work hauling plywood, paint and feed sacks. Perry portrays himself as a flannel-shirt-wearing prairie bachelor who eats his lunch in a sagging armchair. Among the topics he covers here are cooking, bad weather and good women. It's artful Americana, Homeboy Style. He owns three rifles, two shotguns and one revolver. He's a member of the New Auburn Volunteer Fire Department and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire) School of Nursing. He doesn't drink, he makes bruschetta for lunch and he appreciates the work of Raymond Loewy. He knows when to grow a deer-hunting beard and how to appreciate a painting. And he writes for a living. He can offer a fine set piece on such matters as dirt-track racing and the fire-department barbecue, as well as his growing relationship with the fetching Anneliese, a woman who also knows a bit about the fabric of a good life. A reminder, by a talent of the hinterlands, to celebrate small-town life and to treasure human relationships. Agent: Lisa Bankoff/International Creative Management (ICM)
Chicago Tribune Books
“The deer-hunting, truck-loving Michael Perry has the soul of a poet.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061850325
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 109,967
  • File size: 472 KB

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. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his family.

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Read an Excerpt

Truck: A Love Story

By Michael Perry

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Michael Perry

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060571179

Chapter One

I have the hots for Irma Harding. I wish I might couch my desire in more decorous terms, but when our gazes lock, the tickles in my tummy are frankly hormonal. My feelings are beyond ridiculous and destined to remain profoundly unrequited, but I draw a wisp of comfort from the fact that I am not squandering my libidinous yearnings on some flighty young hottie. Irma Harding radiates brightness and strength. She furthermore appears to have good posture. As a younger man, I would not have looked twice at Irma Harding.

As a younger man, I was a fool.

A man learns to tune his sensibilities. Consider the eyes. Your callow swain will be galvanized by coquetry and flash; your full-grown man is taken more by the nature of the gaze. A powerful woman's eyes are charged not by color but by intent. The strong woman does not look at you, the strong woman regards you. Irma's gaze is frank, with a crinkle of humor at the crease of each eye. She knows what she is looking for, and she knows what she is looking at. She has a plan, and should she encounter events for which she lacks a plan, she will change gears without fuss.

In the one picture I have of her, Irma is grinning. The grin is well short of goofy, but it does pull a little more to one side than the other. Her lips are full and gracious, although some might suggestshe back the lipstick down a shade. Her teeth are white and strong. The left upper incisor is the tiniest tad off plumb, but as with the faintly lopsided grin, the net effect is to make her more human, more desirable. Irma's grin is an implication, the implication being that while she would never tell a naughty joke, she would quite happily laugh at one.

Irma is the product of a time when a woman--even a strong woman--strove mostly and above all to please her husband. There is a danger here, a danger that you will form an image in your head of Irma as a servile drone. Look at those eyes again. They are the eyes of a woman who willingly mixes an after-work highball for hubby, but when she delivers the tumbler it is snugged in a napkin wrapped tight as a boot camp bedspread, and hubby will not underestimate the consequences pending should Irma later discover a water ring on the end table. He will droop home slack-tied and gray from the desk-job day, and she will meet him at the door crisp as a celery stick, her cheeks bright, her backbone straight. She will kiss him and take his briefcase, but he will be left to fetch his own slippers. When he settles in the big living room chair, he will turn an ear to the kitchen, from which will emanate the sounds of dinner under way. Not the clownish clatter of pans, or the careless jangle of cutlery, but the smooth whizzz of a blender, the staccato snickety-crunch of the carrot being sliced, the civilized tunk of the freezer door dropping shut on its seal. Lulled by these muted vibrations of efficiency, the husband will drift in the aura of provision and comfort, and his mind will ease.

But just as he is about to drowse, he hears the meat hit the pan, and he rouses to the idea that food is being cooked. He is reminded that he must daily--like any caveman--use his hands to put food in his face. He feels juices release, and his gut rumbles. And that's why Irma gets me bubbling. She may be cast as the stereotypical nuclear housewife, she may be complicit in the premise that a man is to be served, but when I lock on those eyes, I hear the sizzle in the skillet, and I know Irma knows: no matter how you tweak the parsley, eating remains a carnal activity.

Two winters back, a man knocked at my front door. I like to look folks over before I step into the open, so I paused a moment to study him from behind the glass. He had backed away from the porch and was standing on the short patch of sidewalk beside the driveway. My driveway could use some work. I'm no home improvement specialist, but I admit that if you have to mow your asphalt driveway there's work to be done. When I opened the door, the man turned to look at me but held his place on the walk. He had one eyeball smaller than the other.

"That truck for sale?" He squeezed the small eye shut when he talked. He was pointing at the old International Harvester pickup parked in my driveway. It's been there awhile. The tires have formed depressions in the asphalt and a sapling is growing through one wheel well. The sapling is six feet tall and thick as a buggy whip.

"Sorry, nope" I said.

"That got a six-cylinder in it?"

"Yep." I hoped he wouldn't get any more specific. My capacity for mechanical minutiae doesn't go much past lug nuts. One question, and he had nearly depleted the store of my knowledge regarding the engine. Embarrassing, for a guy to have such affection for an old truck and yet know so little about it.

"I need that thing." It was a declaration, not a request. He trained his one-eyed stare directly at the truck. "This buddy of mine's got a road grader, he put a six-cylinder International engine in it. Everybody told him you can't run a grader with that little damn engine." He turned his face back to me and clamped the eye a little tighter. "Hell, he can spin every wheel on that thing." He spit, poorly. A thin string of snoose trailed in the breeze, then snagged on the stubble of his chin. It was cold enough I expected the string to stiffen and hit the ground with a faint tinkle.


Excerpted from Truck: A Love Story
by Michael Perry
Copyright © 2006 by Michael Perry.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

My poor old truck. It sat in the sun and the snow for years and years. It rusted. It sank through the blacktop and grew a sapling out one fender.

I swore I'd get it fixed up and running again. We had put a lot of miles on years before, back when the truck was my only form of transportation. I don't know why the Department of Transportation even allowed me to rattle down the highway back then, but they did. Pity, maybe. The muffler was attached with a coat hanger, it'd rattle loose and the truck would all of a sudden roar louder. I'd have to put on gloves, crawl under there and jam it back on the header pipe.

So I kept saying I'd fix it up. Never did. Then one cold day an old-timer with one bad eye stopped in. He demanded I sell the truck to him. Said he needed the engine. I told him I was gonna fix it up. He could tell I had been saying that for years, and when he squinted up that one eye and looked at me, I could see he didn't believe me.

But he got under my skin some, that old guy. Enough so that I eventually yanked the truck free from the spot in the driveway where it had essentially become rooted, loaded it up on a flatbed, and hauled it off to the garage of my brother-in-law, where we began tearing the thing down in order to build it back up.

If you look real close there at the rust pattern on the door, you can see that some previous owner painted flames on the doors. This is like painting flames on a hippo. Good grief.

Anyway. What was supposed to be an 11-month project turned into of course a much longer project. By the time it was done I had lost my hair, obsessed over an imaginary woman, grown some excellent tomatoes and some pathetic leeks, failed to quell a backyard squirrel insurgency, and accidentally met a real woman at the library. You could say things unraveled, or perhaps they raveled.

Today my old truck is running. Mostly to the dump, and out to the farm where I was raised, and sometimes into the woods to drag out a deer. But here just recently, an independent film crew used it to portray a redneck taxi. I like to think my truck is like any movie star, ready to show herself to the public now that she has had a nip and a tuck and a fresh coat of paint.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 20, 2014

    Calling all Wisconsinites

    A pleasant read about the folkways and wisdom of rural Wisconsinites. Mr. Perry gives an entertaining and interesting depiction of discourse and living in everyday life Wisconsin. A book to soothe the mind and soul.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    Awesome read!

    I really enjoyed this book. His stories of restoring the truck, his enjoyment of growing his garden and falling in love are as well told as they are touching and enjoyable. That along with the characters of his town make this a fun read.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    Fun Read.

    This was enjoyable until the last chapter which seemed contrived. I suppose it is difficult to stop writing about ones own life while that life continues. At any rate, the writer is excellent at bringing across the funny way men think (to us ladies) and created a fun book.

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  • Posted August 23, 2009

    Great gift

    Gave it as a gift to my Dad who's a huge truck fan, and he loved the story.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    Truck: A Love Story.

    I purchased this book in a belief that I would be reading a humorous account of one man's effort to restore an old International pickup truck (a subject of personal interest) and comments on life in rural America. I was expecting something akin to Garrison Keillor. Michael Perry's style is nothing like that of Keillor. The humor is more dry and innocent, with less satire.

    I did not care for the fact that Perry meanders from theme to theme: his gardening, restoration of the title truck, observations of family and friends in his rural community, and a growing relationship with a woman. Parts of the story captured my attention, then Perry would wander into new territory and, in so doing, lose my attention.

    This was not a book that I found "impossible to put down". At times I wasn't even certain I would finish Truck, yet something in Perry's writing compelled me to finish the book. I felt as if I owed it to this candid and conversational author to finish the story he has written. Perhaps this says something positive of the writing. If I had really hated the book, or the author's artistry, I would not have felt such an obligation to struggle on, reading it to the end.

    I understand many other readers have enjoyed Truck, leading to Michael Perry's authorship of new books with similar rural themes. I will not be among those who will read Mr. Perry's next book. It isn't that he is a bad writer; I simply do not care for his style.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2009

    Great read about small town America

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I have family in Perry's part of the country. This was a gift from them. I enjoyed noting similarities with people in the book and ways of thinking. I like to be reminded that we are all human with our own stories and experiences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2008


    I made the mistake of taking this with me on a trip and ended up sitting at the terminal laughing out loud and getting looks but i could not put it down! As a fellow Wisconsinite I could relate to everything in this book...a true depiction of life in rural Wisconsin.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2007

    This guy's the real deal. An honest masterpiece.

    I love men. Really I do. I don't mean it like you're thinking it. I love to get little glimpses into the minds of the testerone crowd. How do they REALLY act when they forget we're there? Michael Perry gives us this glimpse and more, more, more. He's one heck of a phrase turner, this guy. Made me wish I had someone to read whole paragraphs, pages and chapters to. It's that good, that you just want to call your best friend and say, 'Oh my god. Just listen to this sentence.' Don't read it fast. Savor it.

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