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Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace (edition 2012)

by Michael Perry

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7810154,388 (4.28)2
Member:miamiman
Title:Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace
Authors:Michael Perry
Info:Harper (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****
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Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Perry continues to amaze with his deep, complex insights into what would normally be considered ordinary subject matter, such as old barns, swimming holes, and "real" kitchens. He continually returns me to my own memories of growing up in a small town/rural atmosphere. Genius! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
Perry continues to amaze with his deep, complex insights into what would normally be considered ordinary subject matter, such as old barns, swimming holes, and "real" kitchens. He continually returns me to my own memories of growing up in a small town/rural atmosphere. Genius! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
Perry continues to amaze with his deep, complex insights into what would normally be considered ordinary subject matter, such as old barns, swimming holes, and "real" kitchens. He continually returns me to my own memories of growing up in a small town/rural atmosphere. Genius! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 25, 2014 |
There are many people in our lives whom we can learn from if we just sit down and listen to them. Listen to them not as they offer us advice and insight into being a better person but just listen to them as they tell their stories. Michael Perry's Visiting Tom is a lovely ode to his eighty two year old neighbor, Tom, and to their visits, their shared chats, and their deep and reliable friendship.

Weaving together notes from a photography session at Tom's farm highlighting the old and special features of the farm and its implements with years of visits to have Tom do some work for him or just to check in and be neighborly as well as Perry's own evolving life as a hybrid of author/farmer in rural Wisconsin, this memoir is beautiful, conversational, and eminently entertaining.

Tom is a bit of an eccentric character with decided opinions and a unique view on the world. He's lived in his house for his entire life, watching it change from a large remote farm to a piece of property with a highway slashed through it right outside the kitchen window. He and wife Arlene have been married for almost 60 years and they've raised two daughters. Tom is handy and creative both, fixing tools the county over for others, designing and implementing his own working machines, and enjoying tinkering with anything mechanical. And of course, he is carrying on a longtime love affair with vintage weaponry, gleefully firing his reproduction cannons over his driveway toward a target perched on a hill. He shares his memories of times past and the priceless stories of people and place that live on only in the minds of the old-timers.

As Perry relates Tom's stories, memories, and goofy jokes, he also opens up his own home life to his readers, discussing the joys of parenting daughters and the comfort of his own marriage. He details his own mostly gentlemanly go rounds with government and the highway commissioner about the undesirable "improvement" to the road leading to his turn. And he relates his longing for hearth and home while he is on the road traveling with the job that pays the bills (writing and promoting books like this). He shares the sentimental joys of everyday life with his girls and his own stories of growing up. And like his previous non-fiction works, Perry has written another familiar feeling, homely, reverent book. He absorbs Tom's wisdom, gleaned from his actions as much as his words, and presents this kind neighbor not as his mentor but with the unpretentious dignity befitting such. This is a meditative tale, sweet and nostalgic. It is a book to be wallowed in and, as my dad says, read slowly and with great expression. Perry might get to visit Tom regularly but with this book, we are also invited into the farmhouse kitchen to take our place at the table and listen too. Sometimes there's no greater joy than just that. ( )
  whitreidtan | Aug 14, 2013 |
I loved Perry's [b:Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time|409287|Population 485 Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time|Michael Perry|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1174506098s/409287.jpg|221161] and was ambivalent about [b:Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting|5633583|Coop A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting|Michael Perry|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347340530s/5633583.jpg|5805003] through failings all my own.

This book, as much memoir as biography, was a shimmering jewel of keen observation and reverence for humanity. There were numerous passages that brought tears to my eyes. Tom reminded me of the few codgers who walked through my youth fixing fences, hauling rocks out of fields, and generally making impossible things from the materials they had on hand. Perry's willingness to lay himself bare in so many particulars is a beautiful thing, and one I honor. His tendency to maudlin middle-aged sentimentality is one I recognize and struggle with.

A lovely book. Highly recommended.

( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
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Details the author's experiences and conversations with his octogenarian, cannon-shooting neighbor Tom Hartwig, who, armed with an arsenal of stories and an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide, offers guidance and inspiration.

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