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Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting Paperback – December 22, 2015
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From the Back Cover
“Perry can take comfort in the power of his writing, his ability to pull readers from all corners onto his Wisconsin spread, and make them feel right at home among the chickens.” —Seattle Times
Living in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse—faced with thirty-seven acres of fallen fences and overgrown fields, and informed by his pregnant wife that she intends to deliver their baby at home— Michael Perry plumbs his unorthodox childhood for clues to how to proceed as a farmer, a husband, and a father.
Whether he’s remembering his younger days—when his city-bred parents took in sixty or so foster children while running a sheep and dairy farm—or describing what it’s like to be bitten in the butt while wrestling a pig, Perry flourishes in his trademark humor. But he also writes from the quieter corners of his heart, chronicling experiences as joyful as the birth of his child and as devastating as the death of a dear friend.
About the Author
Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485, as well as a novel, The Jesus Cow. He lives in northern Wisconsin with his family and can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com.
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Perry has the ability to be humorous without resorting to jokes and one-liners, and to be touching without ever becoming maudlin. His stories take the reader back and forth between his contemporary efforts and his life growing up on a small farm with dozens of biological, adopted, and temporary siblings, and the way he tells it, none of these experiences are or were particularly exceptional; it's just the way his life was, and is. He appreciates all of it, and manages to find the humor as well as the joy in every moment.
I can see that this book would appeal to a lot of people for different reasons. The idea of "living on the land" is appealing, although the reality wouldn't suit most of us. And, as the author would be the first to tell you, his farm doesn't really support his family at this stage. Still, his stories of pigs and chickens and the ingenuity of his farming friends and neighbors are delightfully entertaining.
And then there's the fact that he writes so well and comes across as a genuinely nice guy - the kind of man you'd like to have a drink with or work with on a PTA committee or see jumping out of an ambulance if you were injured or ill. He's not perfect. No married man is perfect, as his wife will be quick to tell you, but he tries and he means well. He's always ready to laugh at myself, which makes him hard to resist.
But to me the greatest value of Perry's books lies in the insights into his family. I love the story of his mother's deep commitment to a small, little-known Christian denomination and how it shaped their family life. His father was an engineer and married into the church, but became as devoted to it as his wife. Was it their religious beliefs or simply a need to help others that led them to foster so many special-needs children?
Sometimes the children of parents who take in "strays" are resentful of the time, attention, and money that are diverted to the new kids. The author doesn't seem to have felt that way and it would be interesting to know if all of his siblings were as tolerant or if he's just easy-going by nature.
The story of his relationship with his step-daughter (his "given daughter" as he calls her) is tender and encouraging. All of us have seen so much damage from divorce. If one family can push past the anger and form bonds that give a child security and respect for others, maybe there's hope for the rest of us.
It's not unusual to find a book that's a collection of well-written, entertaining anecdotes. This book is more than that and that's why it stuck in my mind.
He's a wonderful poetric writer, and I love his work.