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Population: 485- Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time (P.S.) Paperback – July 31, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061363502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061363504
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When writer Perry returned to his tiny childhood town, New Auburn, Wisc., after 12 years away, he joined the village's volunteer fire and rescue department. Six years later, he'd begun to understand at last that to truly live in a place, you must give your life to that place. These charming, discursive essays are loosely structured around the calls Perry responds to as a volunteer EMT, including everything from a collision at the local Laundromat to heart attacks, fires and suicides. Perry's mosaic of smalltown life also paints charming portraits of the town's memorable characters, such as the One-Eyed Beagle, another firefighter. Perry's insights into the small-town mentality come from apparent contemplation, and he writes about them with good humor, in prose reminiscent of Rick Bragg's: "The old man says he had a woozy spell, and so he took some nitroglycerin pills. This is like saying you had high blood pressure so you did your taxes." In spite of an enormous surprise in the final chapter, the book's lack of central conflict leaves it feeling desultory, like a collection of good magazine pieces rather than a propulsive chronicle of quirky small-towners a la John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Still, there are moments in which Perry achieves an unforced lyricism: Rescue work is like jazz. Improvisation based on fundamentals.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Being a volunteer EMT is no small challenge, even in a town as small as New Auburn, Wisconsin. Perry mixes his tales of heroic rescues with his stories of small-town life. His book opens with his team attempting to rescue a teenage girl from a disastrous car wreck on a dangerous bend of road. As part of the volunteer fire department, Perry--along with his brother and mother-- pulls people from mangled cars and answers 911 calls from critically ill people. He also relates how New Auburn got its name (after going through three others), and shares the lives of his fellow volunteers, such as Beagle, a man who can't use the town's only gas station because both of his ex-wives work there. He details the technicalities of being a volunteer--the many terminologies one needs to memorize, and also crucial, life-saving techniques, such as CPR and controlling a house fire by puncturing a hole in its roof. Tragic at times, funny at others, Perry's memoir will appeal to anyone curious about small-town life. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael Perry has written for numerous publications, including Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, Salon, and the Utne Reader. A contributing editor to Men's Health, he lives in northern Wisconsin with his family.

Customer Reviews

It was one of the most interesting and humerous books that I have read in a really long time.
reader1
Read Michael Perry's book for the acuity of his perceptions, the deep beauty of his language and the humor and compassion of his stories.
Stretch
Population: 485 was an interesting novel, and I think that it was a very enjoyable book to read.
B. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What a treat to find this great new book! This is a memoir by the most interesting character you could imagine. Michael Perry is a poet, a registered nurse, a trained EMT and a volunteer fire fighter. After years away from his small home town in rural Wisconsin, he returns and writes about the things that happen to him there. The result is a funny and often moving account of the things that are really important in life - with insights that can be gained only from a man faced daily with life and death situations. Perry has a beautiful cadence to his storytelling and makes the transition from laugh out loud storytelling to heart-wrenching tragedies seamlessly. I swallowed the book whole and marked up my copy with underlined quotations and margins full of stars of agreement. A definite must-read.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By jan on November 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am a former resident of the small town in Mike Perry's new book, Population 485. Thinking the book would be a humorous depiction of life in the midwest, I settled down for a light-hearted story. Though there was indeed some laughter, there was also tears and wisdom gained through Mike's insights on the meaning of life. This ranks as one of my favorite books and highly recommend it to everyone. I am now looking forward to his next book!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Chris on October 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lyrical, sometimes funny, often meditative observations on small-town life. This book is similar in flavor to Thomas Lynch's The Undertaking. The author's ruminations about his life, past and present, arise out of the emergency calls he responds to as a part his town's volunteer fire department and EMS response unit. While the subject matter may seem depressing, it certainly is much more about life, especially the well lived life, rather than death. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "northstar145" on December 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Author Michael Perry is a poet, registered nurse, EMT (emergency medical technician) and volunteer firefighter in northern Wisconsin. Perry grew up on the family farm and rarely went to town for anything but school activities. Now, 20 years later, he's been away and moved back. He lives in a weather-worn-house on Main Street in this town of 485 where good-paying jobs are 30- or 40-miles away.
Perry's memoirs, Population: 485, Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, is a breathtaking account of life in small-town America where weirdoes and oddballs, the upscale and the downtrodden, the fast lane and the slow pace all merge as the fabric of community life.
After years away he returns and writes about being a townie and foreigner at the same time. The result is funny and moving, an account of things that are truly important in life with insights that can only be provided by one who faces moments of life and death daily. Rarely but occasionally childbirth occurs in the arms of the rescue squad. One of Perry's ambulances carries the insignia of a stork, departmental recognition of its delivery on-board. More frequently and without regard to religious preference, income status, political belief or necessarily age, rescue squads see life at its other end, and Perry takes you on a ride that shifts between laugh-out-loud storytelling and delicate description of heart-stopping tragedy.
Population: 485 could be about this town or any other small town. Once through this book will not be enough. I find myself turning again and again to the description of the farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible or that of the senior member of the fire department, a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both work at the only gas station in town).
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Daniel H. Bigelow VINE VOICE on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Population: 485 is starting to take off in volunteer fire and EMS circles. There are two reasons for this. First, it's always great to see a book that glorifies what you do. Second, Perry's experience and way with words allows him to nail many of the details of the work. His passages on emergencies he has dealt with had me nodding my head in recognition, and even sometimes -- as in his section about EMS's obsession with overcomplicated mnemonic devices -- exclaiming my agreement aloud in empty rooms. In these parts of the book, Perry comes closer than any writer I can think of to imparting what it feels like to be an EMT or firefighter in the situations he describes.
However, not all the book is about that. To prove his erudition, Perry salts his book with historical information he cannot make interesting compared to his central subject. These end up looking like he's marking time through this short book because he doesn't have anecdotes enough to fill it. (One of his asides about Emperor Trajan, however, was trenchant.) Also, little redundancies from chapter to chapter reveal how this book was stitched together out of separate articles or essays -- either it should have stayed an essay collection, or the editing should have been done more carefully. And occasionally Perry's "macho poet" stylings can be a bit precious.
All in all, though, Perry's book is worth a look. It is a quick read, and Perry can turn a phrase well. Most importantly, nothing else I have seen captures the feeling of being a small town volunteer like Population: 485. Writing from Population: 633, I salute the book.
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