Sunday, January 5, 2014

Population: 485

Population: 485
Michael Perry

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

Genre: Memoir

Summary (from Goodreads):  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.

Review: I read this book for my bookclub, but I don't know that we will find a lot to discuss when we finally get together.  It caught our interest because it is about small town life in a Northern Wisconsin town, and the description sounded like it would be dramatic and probably funny.  Unfortunately, the description wasn't a very accurate summary of the book, as it dealt more with the tragedy involved in being a volunteer fire fighter/paramedic than with the comedy.  I felt like the author sometimes tried to hard to use fancy language and provoke deep thinking; while I love books that use SAT vocabulary words and make me think, I don't like it to be too obvious.  Having said all that, the stories were quite interesting, and the descriptions of small-town Wisconsonians accurate, at least as far as I could tell.

Rating: 3 stars

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