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Population: 485 by Michael Perry

Population: 485 (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Michael Perry

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7413718,757 (3.97)16
Title:Population: 485
Authors:Michael Perry
Info:HarperCollins (2002), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 2010, research, medical, memoir, nonfiction

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Population: 485 by Michael Perry (2002)



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Overall, I enjoyed Perry's meandering stories of fire and rescue in rural Wisconsin. At times, it made me laugh out loud; at times, it was very sad. It was slow and dragged a little in parts, but that probably gives the best insight into life in a tiny, rural township. ( )
  jtdancer | Jun 30, 2018 |

My first introduction to Michael Perry’s work was his latest publication, [b:Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy|34217513|Montaigne in Barn Boots An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy|Michael Perry|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1491691011s/34217513.jpg|55268410]. After reading that fine book I decided to go back to the beginning and chronologically read all the full-length memoirs Perry has written. Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time afforded him some well-deserved attention. But honestly, as popular as the book appears to now be, I was expecting much more. From the very beginning I found myself a little disappointed. For some reason I was not expecting so much about him being an emergency medical technician and volunteer fireman. But by Chapter 7 Perry had gotten me again with his simple take on community in the chapter My People. He speaks about humility and the assumptions writers sometimes have that they are better than what they are. How that same vanity can cause problems in relationships. But the fire department provided a point of access for him in meeting his neighbors more authentically. He admits, at this point of his writing career, to having written nothing of “considerable reputation.” And when asked at a reading, “What’s the secret to making a living as a writer?” he answers that he discovered the secret years ago while cleaning his father’s calf pens. A childhood spent slinging manure taught him that you just keep shoveling until you’ve got a pile so big, someone has to notice. I really admired his answer, and maybe it applies to all of us if we just keep working hard at piling up our body of work.

By the two-thirds mark I have matured in my thinking and wholeheartedly accept this memoir on its own terms. That of a brother and son, an emergency worker, a fireman, and serviceman to his county and community. Not exactly what I had in mind for the book that got Perry “in” and on the literary map. Thought it would be more about the quirky small town and its people, and it is, just not exactly. This entertaining and educational book is more about service and what that entails. It is the intimacy involved in getting to know death, disease, and destruction on a personal level sooner than most of us who generally carry on until the end comes instead to meet us. Perry confronts death straight on, and almost every day. Or what potentially could result in his own end, but certainly not without the instruction and details that accumulate in order for Perry’s benevolence to grow. It feels endearing to be in his company, and his character being one that will certainly last and predictably thrive through all the fated adversity to come. And this very good book was more than just a touching memoir. It has heart. And life. And hope emanating from a gifted and fascinating personality.

…Captive of my heart and feet, I’m a wandering fool, but I’ve got the sense to keep returning. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 7, 2018 |
EMS and writing. ( )
  cookierooks | Nov 16, 2016 |
Transcendentally beautiful, heartwrenching, and lol funny - often all on the same page. I suppose I ought to tell you I grew up in a town almost as small as New Auburn, less than an hour from there, and am only a few years older than Mike. But I really don't think that disclaimer is relevant. This another amazing book by one of my very favorite authors and I highly recommend it to everyone. But don't take my word for it - consider:

We know we're rubes, we just don't want to be taken for rubes."

"By the time the lumberjacks swept through in the mid to late 1800s settlement of the area was well underway, fueled by the usual mincemeat of destiny and deception... the Indians were gone.... Today, when I see the cornfields sprouting duplexes and hearing my neighbors mourn the loss of the family farm, ... I can't help but think that this land has been lost before."

"... in the days of the Sioux and Ojibwa, the timber [was] so thick snow clung to the side of hills through the end of summer. When the logging crews stripped the trees, sunlight went straight to the earth, and the growing season expanded by ten days, or so a local history book claims."

"Be grateful for death, the one great certainty in an uncertain world. Be thankful for the spirit smoke that lingers for every candle gone out."

" ( )
1 vote Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This is a book with real heart. I just finished A Thousand Naked Strangers and was disappointed. I was hoping for something more like this. Michael Perry cares about his patients and his town. He is in a small town and that would certainly be a different experience from the big city encounters in Atlanta. I would definitely recommend this title along with Heart in the Right Place.
  njcur | Apr 19, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061363502, Paperback)

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin, where 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. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, Population: 485 is a comic and sometimes heartbreaking true tale leavened with quieter meditations on an overlooked America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Michael Perry chronicles the experiences he had after returning to his childhood hometown of New Auburn, Wisconsin, and joining the volunteer fire department.

(summary from another edition)

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