Danger: Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch

Danger: Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch

by Michael Perry


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Danger: Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch by Michael Perry

"Every writer has advice for aspiring writers. Mine is predicated on formative years spent cleaning my father’s calf pens: Just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. The fact that I cast my life’s work as slung manure simply proves that I recognize an apt metaphor when I accidentally stick it with a pitchfork. . . . Poetry was my first love, my gateway drug—still the poets are my favorites—but I quickly realized I lacked the chops or insights to survive on verse alone. But I wanted to write. Every day. And so I read everything I could about freelancing, and started shoveling." 

The pieces gathered within this book draw on fifteen years of what Michael Perry calls "shovel time"—a writer going to work as the work is offered. The range of subjects is wide, from musky fishing, puking, and mountain-climbing Iraq War veterans to the frozen head of Ted Williams. Some assignments lead to self-examination of an alarming magnitude (as Perry notes, "It quickly becomes obvious that I am a self-absorbed hypochondriac forever resolving to do better nutritionally and fitness-wise but my follow-through is laughable.") But his favorites are those that allow him to turn the lens outward: "My greatest privilege," he says, "lies not in telling my own story; it lies in being trusted to tell the story of another."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780870208409
Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society
Publication date: 08/15/2017
Edition description: 1
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 403,867
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Michael Perry is a newspaper columnist and the author of numerous books including Population: 485 and Society Press’s Roughneck Grace and From the Top, as well as the New York Times bestseller Visiting Tom. His live humor recordings include Never Stand Behind a Sneezing Cow and The Clodhopper Monologues. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and daughters and is privileged to serve as a first responder with the local fire department. He can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Men Among Men

Shock and Awe 3

My Daughter's Father 24

Mushing 29

Mike Is a Nurse 35

The Not-So Handyman 40

Tim McGraw: Real Good Bad Example 45

New Year's Resolution: Meet Mills at the Widowmaker 53

Musky Hunting 56

Why Men Get a Bang Out of Guns 66

Alive, Dead, and in Between

Health Secrets from the Morgue 77

Human Popsicles 88

Puking 97

Mike Is Sweaty 102

Mike Eats Beans 110

Mike Goes Metrosexual 117

Poison Ivy Where? 126

That Ears Ringing Thing 128

Teetotal 134

Like Mother, Like Son 140

Working 145

A Philosopher for the Rest of Us 149

Faith and Music

Greg Brown: Hallelujah Anyway 159

King Pleasure 172

Molly and the Heymakers 178

Letter to Lightnin' Hopkins 187

The Power and the Glory 191

Running the River Righteous 207

Sublimation: The Blind Boys of Alabama 224

Acknowledgments 227

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