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The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir Hardcover – June 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

Eric Poole and Josh Kilmer-Purcell: Author One-on-One

Eric Poole is the secret love child of Fran Lebowitz and David Sedaris. But oddly taller. The author of Where's My Wand and a VP of radio marketing for a major media company, Eric resides in Los Angeles with his partner of eight years. Recently he sat down with Josh Kilmer-Purcell to discuss their work. Read the resulting interview below, or turn the tables to see what happened when Josh interviewed Eric.

Eric Poole

Eric: How many jobs can one person have? You're a bestselling author, an advertising exec, a gentleman farmer and the star of the Fabulous Beekman Boys reality series. Don't you know that unemployment is 8.5%?

Josh: You raise a really good point. Since only one of those jobs pays more than minimum wage, I wonder if I can collect some sort of unemployment?

Eric: In your new memoir The Bucolic Plague, your partner Brent gives vivid and highly amusing life to the term "control freak." Does he make up for it in other ways, or are you just medicated?

Josh: If it weren’t for Brent, I would still be living in a crappy rental apartment spending my evenings reading crappy books and watching mindless television shows rather than writing crappy books and starring in mindless television shows. I’m inherently very lazy. While having a control freak as a partner might seem difficult from the outside, it certainly does motivate oneself to get off one’s ass…if for no other reason than to shut him up.

Eric: I was so rooting for you and Brent in this book. I started the book in Mexico and couldn't leave the room until I finished it. You owe me a suntan.

Josh: Years from now, when you don’t find a giant, discolored, Arkansas-shaped mole in your bikini region, you will thank me.

Eric: The Bucolic Plague is the story of how you came to buy the farm that your reality series is about. What on earth made you think buying and running a farm would be easy?

Josh: It was 2007. Everything was easy. You could find gently pre-owned Lexus sedans in curbside recycling bins. You sent in your clothes for dry-cleaning, and they upgraded them to haute couture. There were carts on every NYC street corner hawking weekend homes to passersby. A million-dollar goat farm seemed like the deal of the century. Unfortunately that century ended in with the market crash of 2008.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Eric: What's the one thing you hate most about farming (if you can narrow it down)?

Josh: Nothing. Not one thing. The only thing I even slightly dislike is leaving the farm every Sunday night to come back to the city.

Eric: Brent doesn't want to introduce you to his straight-laced family. Is he afraid they’ll like you better?

Josh: Actually, I have just recently met his entire family. Brent and I have been together for 11 years, but it has taken this long to for me to meet his family because some of his relatives are pretty devout fundamentalists. And because he (rightly) loves them very much, and because they (rightly) love him very much, and because I (rightly) love Brent very much, we all needed to wait until everyone felt completely comfortable with the situation. I happen to be fairly religious myself. So I figured I’d let God work it out on his schedule since he was the reason for the mess in the first place.

Eric: The goat milk products on your website are a big hit. Are the goats going all diva on your ass?

Josh: The goats are pretty humble. The llama, however, is a drama queen. “Llook at me! I’m the only llama on the farm!” One day I’m going to bring home an Emu just to knock her down a peg or two.

Eric: In your memoir I Am Not Myself These Days, you dated a drug-addicted escort. Do you look back and think, mmm, good times...?

Josh: Yep. At the risk of making people dislike me even more than so many already do, I have to admit I’ve had a kickass life.

Eric: Do you ever wish you could go back to just being Aqua (your drag queen alter ego), when your biggest problem was how to feed the live goldfish in your bustier?

Josh: You’re supposed to feed goldfish??

Eric: What's the last thing you think about at night? Is it your llama?

Josh: I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. The last thing I think about at night is that if I don’t wake up in the morning I will have achieved everyone’s ultimate goal of dying in one’s sleep. Then I wind up losing sleep trying to figure out how one goes about gloating over such a thing.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Raised in rural Wisconsin, Kilmer-Purcell moved to Manhattan to work in advertising in the 1990s. In his memoir I Am Not Myself These Days, he wrote about moonlighting as a nightclub drag queen. Now he recalls how he and his partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, a Martha Stewart Omni Media v-p, became weekend farmers after purchasing the 19th-century Beekman Mansion on 60 acres near the hauntingly beautiful town of Sharon Springs, N.Y. Kilmer-Purcell writes with dramatic flair and trenchant wit, uncovering mirthful metaphors as he plows through their daily experiences, meeting neighbors, signing on caretaker Farmer John, herding goats, canning tomatoes, and digging a garden, as they fix up the 205-year-old house. Cleverly contrasting ad agency life with rustic barn mucking, he must choose: I just can't face spending the rest of my life behind a desk selling dish soap to Middle America. Hell, I want to be Middle America. This entertaining book gets an extra big boost from the forthcoming Beekman Farm, a Planet Green documentary TV series about the dynamic duo's eco-adventures scheduled to air this spring. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006133698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061336980
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Josh Kilmer-Purcell is the bestselling author of the memoir I Am Not Myself These Days and the novel Candy Everybody Wants, and the star of the television docu-series The Fabulous Beekman Boys. He and his partner, Brent Ridge, divide their time between Manhattan and the Beekman Farm.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Storm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Simply put, "The Bucolic Plague" by Josh Kilmer-Purcell was a fun and engrossing read. When you read a book you really enjoy, it's often difficult to describe to others exactly why you thought the book was so great. For me, "The Bucolic Plague" is one of those books, but I will attempt to explain why I was reading this book for hours on end - turning page after page.

First off, Josh Kilmer-Purcell does a masterful job in creating an intimate closeness with the reader. The friendly tone of the entire memoir makes you feel as if you're sitting next to him on the couch while he's explaining to you how he and his partner went from high-profile Manhattanites to goat farmers in upstate New York. In this hectic instant-gratification world the story strikes a chord because it is a familiar one to many people - the yearning to throw away your rush-hour-9-to-6-5-days-a-week-plus-overtime career and settle to a simpler, idyllic life in the country on a farm. Maybe you'll own some livestock - a couple of cows, maybe a goat. Growing your own vegetables fresh from your prize-winning organic heirloom garden. While many of us may not agree with (or perhaps even like) Martha Stewart, nevertheless when we picture that ideal farmhouse most of us picture a perfect home straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. Partners Josh and Brent take the plunge and turn their dream into a reality by purchasing a stately farm mansion in the middle of Sharon Springs, New York.

What follows is the reinvention of the Beekman Mansion from a simple weekend getaway home to a full-fledged, working farm - including the monetary need to survive!
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By PT Cruiser TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I just have to share the first lines of the prologue from this book with you. "The last time I saw 4 A.M., I was tottering home in high heels and a matted wig sipping from the tiny bottles of Absolut that I always kept in my bag for emergencies. Emergencies like "last call"." I just had to see what would happen next! The author, Josh Kilmer-Purcell goes on to explain that now, a decade later, he's digging through a backpack with milk bottles for 5 baby goats that he's transporting in his pickup truck to the filming studio for the Martha Stewart Show that will be featured on the show telling about their handmade goat milk soap business in upstate New York.

Josh and his partner, Brent who is the one working for the Martha Stewart show (Josh is a advertising exec and author) come upon what they find out is the Beekman Mansion, a 4,500 square food mansion built in 1802 which has been renovated but on the market, for sale for the last four years. They're up in the area on a fall apple picking outing. The mansion is in Sharon Springs, a tiny little town in upstate New York, about a 3 1/2 hour train ride and drive from Manhattan where they own a tiny apartment and have high powered, big city jobs. They call Michelle, the local real estate agent and tour the mansion which they fall in love with. It's beautifully restored, complete with a family crypt in the back, a barn and another small structure which could serve as servant quarters. The place is listed for $1,000,000 but they make a low ball offer which is accepted.

A man named John who has seventy some goats leaves a letter in their mailbox asking if they need a caretaker in exchange for housing the goats.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark C. Caserta on June 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As an eco-blogger, I'm usually drawn to the "green" aspects of a book, such as how Brent and Josh planted an organic, historically correct vegetable garden and how they tried to grow or raise everything that they ate or at least buy everything from the local Sharon Springs area (all very admirable but clearly exhausting for two boys from Manhattan who lived at the Beekman on the weekends). Instead, I found myself drawn to their story of personal and financial struggle to make the Beekman both a home and a business. The result of their efforts, [...] is part lifestyle guide and part online shop for goods made using the Beekman's Goat Milk.

It was even more interesting to read Josh's account of how the recession, in which both he and Brent lost their jobs, affected their business, their relationship and their daily lives. All of it seemed so horribly familiar but it was comforting to know that even the Fabulous Beekman boys were affected and yet, they seem to have gotten through.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking the book out.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Karen K. Hart VINE VOICE on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I can't believe this book sat in my house for weeks before I began to read it.
I was sucked into The Bucolic Plague because Josh Kilmer-Purcell is so engaging and funny. Funnier than David Sedaris. And when the subject matter got less funny and more troubled, I stayed because I cared. Imagine, if you will, a book that covers the difficulty of being unemployed, the difficulty of maintaining a relationship when under extreme stress, the difficulty of being OVERemployed, and a real estate agent who points out that the pool on a property is close to the crypt, which should be convenient if anyone happens to drown. That is this book, and thinking of it brings a smile to my face. Highly recommended.
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