Many other local authors have churned out books about their childhoods in rural Wisconsin, their days on dairy farms, doing chores in the dark winter mornings, baling hay in the falling summer dusk, but more often than not, it's like paging through a copy of Reminisce magazine. It is so cliche and stereotypical, overly polished and perfect, I keep trying to take off my rose-colored glasses to read between the lines. I suppose if you grew up a city-kid, this would all be entertaining, but having grown up on a farm and still living it today, my eyelids droop involuntarily, and perhaps my eyes roll just a bit, when I get into the chapters about how, during evening milking, the farmer squirts milk directly from the cow's udder to the cat's mouth. **stifle yawn** If an author has nothing new to bring to the conversation, then perhaps his stories are best left to a front porch retelling to the grandkids after Sunday dinner, preferably with a long piece of reed grass sticking from the corner of his mouth.
burlap skirt. We both laughed our way through the next hour and ten minutes while Perry talked about how he got into writing, walking us through some of his research projects and methods of finalizing a book for publishing. Closing with a few well-worn anecdotes, we laughed until we cried. Perry admitted that he was coming to a point in his career (I believed he employed air quotes every time he said the word "career," but honestly, I think he should just own it) where he was either repeating himself or contradicting himself. Admittedly, I recognized the stories as they were taken straight from his books, but the punchline was only made a bit sweeter in the telling. What family doesn't like to rehash their time-honored favorites again and again?
I opted for a tote bag.
I am one of those old school sticklers who refuses to purchase an electronic book device (translastion: Kindle) and who noticeably shudders when someone talks about "bookless libraries." I like paper, preferably lots of it, glued together with a pretty wrapping, something that will creak and crease under my fingers. I like the weight of said paper filling my tote bag under the assumption that my sheep will take care of themselves and I will be free to read from one end of that pretty wrapping to another, uninterrupted, naturally. So for this library-going tote bag, I found a piece of nice pillow ticking (nothing but the best for this project) and used the bandana for a front pocket. A single long strap slung over my shoulder makes for a comfy messenger bag. And yes, Michael Perry scribbled his signature as well as his immortal words of wisdom, "Never stand behind a sneezing cow." Apparently this whole cow business dates back to the early days of magazine columns and public radio spots, and from what I can tell, has worked pretty well for Perry. Another well-worn anecdote that never gets old.
Michael Perry can be found on facebook, if you need a daily dose of rural humor, or at his website, Sneezing Cow, (see what I mean) if you need to purchase his books or music. I guarantee that his writings will take you back and make you smile, make you pause and celebrate your own Wisconsin life.