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Population: 485

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Here the local vigilante is a farmer's wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew up here, and now -- after a decade away -- he has returned.

Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 15, 2002 – 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 à 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."

Customer Reviews

Population 485

Michael Perry puts together a wonderful collection regarding himself becoming reacquainted with this rural home town through the volunteer fire department. Coming from a rural town, and being on a department myself, I can say that he has nailed it!

Michael Perry, a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll

Population 485 has some profound and deeply resonating meditations on small town life, and at the same time this tome contains some impressive word-smithing and interdisciplinary citations ranging from ancient Greece philosophers to thermodynamics and not excluding John Prine. Perry succinctly captures the world of a volunteer firefighter in Wisconsin in the post 9/11 world and like any good story his recounting reveals a universally identifiable humanity native devoid of place or time, a true feat of craftsmanship indeed.

worth the read

Very interesting perspective on small town living.

Population: 485
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Oct 13, 2009
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings