"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
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.12(d)|
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
Truck: A Love Story
By Michael Perry
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
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.
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.