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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful celebration of what ties us together
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...
Published on October 30, 2002 by Victoria Griffith

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Michael Perry gets it right.
I enjoyed reading Poulation: 485 by Michael Perry. I have been a paramedic for 25 years and thought it would be interesting to read aout rural EMS in Wisconsin. Michael Perry showed me that many EMS experiences are universal. This book is for the thinking EMT or paramedic who wants a good read.

I personally liked the chapter where Michael described treating...
Published on October 10, 2010 by StevenKan


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful celebration of what ties us together, October 30, 2002
By 
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Surprise!, November 17, 2002
By 
jan (Aurora, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth, Life, Death- the whole damn thing, October 29, 2002
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Population: 485 Will Make You Appreciate People, December 11, 2003
By 
"northstar145" (Danville, VT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Population: 485 (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).
Perry made me laugh at myself and smile at more than a few of my neighbors in his discussion of lawn ornaments. (Gosh, he must have spent time in Vermont.) "We threw off the chains of tasteful restraint the day they invented plywood," he says. "The wooden tulip, the plastic sunflower, the begonia-filled toilet, the duck with the windmill wings and even the grandma with polka-dot bloomers bending over in the garden ... is a celebration of where we are. Fake deer, Green Bay Packer ornaments," (those are rare in Vermont) "and goofy mailboxes; they tell me I am in a place where, for better or worse, I know the code." And, I would argue, knowing the code is precisely what makes us feel at home.
Perry's landscape is neither steam cleaned nor blow-dried. It is one, I believe, that any small town aficionado will take to heart.
His stories are great ones about everyday people. I guarantee that if you're familiar with a small town anywhere you'll recognize his characters and find yourself thinking that sounds like someone I know.
What I found most remarkable is not just that they are great stories, but that they are true and that Perry layers this collection to a conclusion (this is my warning) that is more powerful than fiction.
Michael Perry is an appreciator of people, and Population: 485 will make you one, too.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Often on target, December 30, 2002
By 
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raves for Population 485, October 18, 2002
By 
"hudge1" (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
In one short paragraph, Michael Perry can summon the power to make you laugh, cry and think deeply about the human condition. His considerable powers of observation and description bring his town and his people to life - you find yourself looking for their pickups in the lane next to you. And you find them - because his people are your neighbors, your friends and strangers with the sound turned up too loud - you just never looked at them through Perry's volunteer fireman's goggles before. Buy two copies - one to read and one to save for that day, not too far off, when a first edition Michael Perry will be a thing to treasure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Among the Rubes, May 10, 2004
By 
P. Padden (Franklin, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Population: 485 (Paperback)
"Summer comes on like a zaftig hippie chick, jazzed on chlorophyll and flinging fistfuls of butterflies at the sun."
If you're past a certain age, that opening line should remind you of the books that you read in your impressionable years; the ones that made you a reader for life. Think Richard Brautigan. Think Thomas Pynchon. Think Ken Kesey or Hunter S. Thompson.
Michael Perry has a sensibility and a style that assimilate the best that these guys had to offer: Brautigan's sweet, sad quirkiness, Pynchon's God's-eye view of his characters' worlds, Kesey's brawny prose and close observational skills, Thompson's prickly - and very funny - clarity of vision and expression. He goes on to outdo them, however, in a book so small and unassuming - and so tender - that you forgive him for knocking your old literary gods into the hog trough.
Framed by two stories of such pathos - something lacking in our daily lives as a rule, thank God - that we don't have a premeditated response to it, are a wealth of slice-of-life stories about the little town of New Auburn, Wisconsin, (population 485) that are so lovingly and meticulously rendered that you'll recognize your own town. Your own neighbors. Your own self.
The opening piece - "Jabowski's Corner" - tells the story of a hardworking farm family with a deadly piece of road bisecting their land. Part encomium to the farmer and his wife who raised seven girls and five boys on a rockpatch farm, part euology to the girl so terribly injured on the sharp curve known as Jabowski's Corner, and finally, part tale of Perry's attempt - by joining the local volunteer fire department and EMS squad - to weave his life back into that of the community in the hometown that he left years ago, this is a harrowing tale of faith and loss and love.
About the girl, Perry tells us, "Seven years since the accident, and this is what freezes me late at night: There was a moment - a still, horrible moment - when the car came squalling to a halt, the violent kinetics spent, and the girl was pinned in silence... The meadowlark sings, the land drops away south to the hazy tamarack bowl of the Big Swamp... all around the land is rank with life... The girl is terribly, terribly alone in a beautiful, beautiful world."
Between this horrible, lovely story and the end piece - an equally lachrymose one about Perry's sister-in-law of seven weeks' death under similar circumstances - are a series of meditations and just plain wacky yarns about everything from the semiotics of lawn tchachkes to the night Tricky Jackson wiped out the laundromat. My favorite is the one about the big, boozy, bearded logger who thinks he's having a heart attack. He and his fellow Budmeisters are out in the middle of nowhere, and when the EMS team shows up, and the woodsy mirthmakers hear the words "cardiac arrest", they surround their downed friend like protective, demented musk oxen - "arrest" being the only word that penetrates their alcoholic fog.
In the final essay, Perry tells us about Sarah, the young girl who marries his thirty-something brother only to die in a car accident seven weeks later. "At the wake," he says, "it was her hands that made me cry. I would look at them and think of them touching my brother." Which pretty much says all that need be said about the unspoken love between siblings.
It takes a big, strong heart, I think, to join an EMS team or to volunteer as a firefighter - to look at people at their weakest and not turn away. It took that same kind of heart to write these stories.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, October 25, 2002
By A Customer
This is a beautiful book. When you consider the subject matter, the tragedies of everyday life in a small town, this book risked being dark and depressing. I found it to be quite the opposite. Mike Perry finds the grace that can come from senseless accidents. Buy multiple copies and start handing them out to your friends.
(I already wrote a review of this book but it never got posted, so if it ever turns up, I apologize for repeating myself.)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close to Home, January 12, 2003
By 
Scott Rice (Marshall, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
Population: 485 is a book that makes me want to laugh and cry, generally on the same page. I grew up in a small town, worked the VFD then moved away to return some years later. I can readily identify with what Mr. Perry has written in his book. It hits close to home.
If you have ever lived in a small town, served on a small fire department/EMS service, or ever wanted to, this is a book you should read.
The story involves characters that are unique to small towns and they will make you smile and chuckle. The coming together of people to help one another will make you beam with pride. And the tragedies involved with his work will make you cry with a hurt that is all too familiar.
Well written with enough detail to make the experience real Mike Perry has written a book that will reside forever in the dens and family rooms of small town firefighters and EMS workers. Its humanity and inside along with the characters and stories will make it an enjoyable read for anyone.
You cannot go wrong with this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It ended too soon!, January 17, 2003
By 
Carl S. Hyde "Tech Guru" (Mount Laurel, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this book as a Christmas gift for my sister. She is an EMT in Tioga County in the wilderness of Pennsylvania where we both grew up. I thought she would enjoy reading the stories of a fellow small town EMT. Like the author I grew up in a small town then left for the job opportunities and cultural attractions of living in the big city. Unlike the author I have never returned but my sister and our family still live there. The night I purchased the book I skimmed through the pages, was interested and started from the beginning. The stories and narrative said a lot about living in a small town that is slowly dying, and the closeness of a family trying to make a difference. The joy and sorrow of survival and death made the book an emotional experience and I was thoroughly hooked. I stayed up all night and finished the book over breakfast. The ending of the book is especially well done and left me craving for what happened after. I hope the author writes a sequel as I really want to know how his life faired. There is a made for TV movie in here if not a feature. How did my sister like it? She also stayed up all night reading it and it is now circulating through her volunteer fire department in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I bought a copy of my own to read again during a snowy weekend in January.
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Population: 485- Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time (P.S.)
Population: 485- Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time (P.S.) by Michael Perry (Paperback - July 31, 2007)
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