The Jesus Cow, by Michael Perry (@sneezingcow) #review @TLCBookTours #Giveaway

About the book The Jesus Cow The Jesus Cow

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 19, 2015)

The New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and bighearted tale—a comic yet sincere exploration of faith in the face of the modern world.

Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart; a Hummer- driving developer hooked on self-improvement audiobooks is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm; and inside his barn lies a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. Harley’s best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to sidestep the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”

Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door—and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours, pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a per- centage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy, calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and in the process raise enough money to keep his land and, just maybe, win the woman in the big red pickup?

Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and souvenir snow globes. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.

Buy, read, and discuss The Jesus Cow

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Goodreads

About the author, Michael Perry Michael Perry

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. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his family.

Connect with Michael

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter 

My Thoughts

I’ve been reading Michael Perry‘s memoirs for years now, having first “met” him when I picked up a copy of Population: 485 on the discount rack at Barnes and Noble. In fact, my first review for TLC Book Tours was Perry’s Visiting Tom. He writes with this tone that combines intelligence (he listens to NPR) and cozy Americana (like Garrison Keillor without the collection of tag lines, or Stephen King without the killer clowns and sadistic vampires), and it’s that unassuming style that sucks you into his writing.

The Jesus Cow is Michael’s first novel. (Can I call him Michael? After reading so much of his writing, I feel like we’re on a first name basis, or should be). I have to admit I was a bit concerned that what works so well in personal stories might not translate to fiction, and I have to say, I’ve never been more glad to be wrong. First, this is absolutely, unmistakeably a Michael Perry book. Second, it’s also absolutely, unmistakeably fiction.

Oh, sure, The Jesus Cow pays the same attention to the details of rural small-town life that Perry’s other work does, and addresses (if somewhat obliquely) what is happening in our agricultural communities – something he’s never shied away from discussing, but it’s also just a story: a story of a man, a calf, and the preposterous situation surrounding the two.

I feel safe saying that only Michael Perry could tell a story like this, and make it feel so real that you want to leap out of your chair and drive to Wisconsin. He has given us a collection of memorable characters: Harley, Billy, Klute, Carolyn, Maggie, and Mindy all have distinct voices, and feel like people you’ve run into at the mini-mart. (I’m quite certain we’ve driven behind Carolyn’s Subaru, actually). He’s got a knack for setting a scene that I actually envy. And he does it all with an economy of phrase that Hemingway would hate because he’d feel threatened by it.

Reading The Jesus Cow won’t change your life, but it will give you a glimpse into rural America that is filtered through the lens of fiction, and if nothing else, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll want to invite a friend over for a “staff meeting” that involves gathering around the kitchen table with a couple of beers.

Goes well with a farmhouse breakfast of eggs, bacon and hashbrowns, OR, a couple of doughnuts from the mini-mart, washed down with a giant cup of coffee.

Giveaway The Jesus Cow

Want to read this book? If you have a USA mailing address (sorry, this one’s US only), enter to win a copy. ONE winner will be selected next Tuesday and notified by email, as well as on this blog.

How to enter? Leave a comment on this post before 11:59 PM US Central Daylight Time on Monday, June 8th telling me about your favorite roadside attraction. OR follow @Melysse on Twitter and retweet my post about this review.

Michael’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 19th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Thursday, May 21st: Buried Under Books

Friday, May 22nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, May 25th: Jen’s Book Thoughts

Tuesday, May 26th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Wednesday, May 27th: Gspotsylvania: Musings from a Spotsylvania Dog and Bird Mom

Thursday, May 28th: girlichef

Tuesday, June 2nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, June 3rd: BookNAround

Thursday, June 4th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Monday, June 8th: Booksie’s Blog

Tuesday, June 9th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies

Wednesday, June 10th: Apples and Arteries

Thursday, June 11th: A Dream Within a Dream

Friday, June 12th: Imaginary Reads

Review: Visiting Tom by Michael Perry


Visting Tom
Michael Perry

Product Description (from
Tuesdays with Morrie meets Bill Bryson in Visiting Tom, another witty, poignant, and stylish paean to living in New Auburn, Wisconsin, from Michael Perry. The author of Population: 485, Coop, and Truck: A Love Story, Perry takes us along on his uplifting visits with his octogenarian neighbor one valley over—and celebrates the wisdom, heart, and sass of a vanishing generation that embodies the indomitable spirit of small-town America.

My Thoughts:
I first encountered Michael Perry’s work sometime in 2009 when I picked up Population: 485 from a “new paperbacks” table at Barnes and Nobel (this was before most of my reading shifted to Kindle). For some reason I didn’t read it until February, 2010, but I loved it to bits. He’s got that truly American writing style that is shared by Stephen King (except Perry’s books never include killer clowns or radioactive spaceships, though one did involve a pig being butchered), and Garrisson Keillor. You can hear echoes of Twain and Hemingway in his prose, as well, but I digress.

When, earlier this summer, the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours offered me a copy of the newly released PAPERBACK version of Perry’s latest offering, in exchange for an honest review, I didn’t hesitate: I said YES.

Michael Perry’s book Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace arrived at my door a couple of weeks later, and I chose to savor it, rather than devouring it in a matter of hours in my typical fashion.

I’m glad I made that choice, because reading Perry’s book, about a series of visits with an older neighbor who shares shopwork expertise, life experiences that cannot be matched, and a fetish for vintage artillery (i.e. canons), is a book meant to slow us down for a while. It’s the literary equivalent of staying seated at the kitchen table, talking and laughing, long after the meal has been finished, and the coffee has gone cold.

Like so much of Perry’s work, Visiting Tom tells two stories. The first, most obvious one, is that of Tom Hartwig, who has spent his entire 80-plus years in the same community – the same farm – the same HOUSE, even – in rural Wisconsin.

But the second story is Perry’s own, the one in which his farming is something he dabbles at along side his real job (writing and making music), and his relationship with his daughters and wife provides him another set of mirrors into the world.

This book, like all of Perry’s work, is – by turns, funny, sweet, alarming, and poignant. It’s that poignance that affected me most, because my husband’s family also hails from rural farming country, and in Tom, and in his story, I see, not only bits of my father-in-law, but also the very real truth: that family farms are disappearing, that most rural kids grow up and leave the farm (neither my husband nor his two siblings stayed in a rural environment, or, indeed, a related career, choosing instead to work with computers, or, in the case of my sister-in-law, to teach in public schools.)

But I’m digressing again.

Perry’s words let us feel as if we, too, have visited, not just with Tom and his wife and their dog, but with Michael Perry and his family as well.

And really, that’s how the best books SHOULD feel.

Goes well with: A glass of fresh milk and a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Connect with Michael Perry:
Website: Sneezing Cow

Buy the Book: | Barnes and Noble

Watch the Trailer:

TLC Book Tours

Book Review: Coop, by Michael Perry

Coop: a Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting
Michael Perry
Harper, 368 pages
Get it from Amazon >>

I wasn’t going to post any kind of review of Coop here, but I love Michael Perry’s writing so much that I couldn’t not.

In this, the third of his collection of memoirs about his adult life in rural Wisconsin, Perry writes about everything from becoming a parent, both to a stepdaughter (he refers to her as a “given” daughter) and to a new baby girl, to raising hogs to building the titular chicken coop, which project becomes the recurring theme in the book.

As always, Perry’s description of his own carpentry skills is self-deprecating at best, and whether he’s discussing the way he salvaged windows from his previous home for the coop or talking about industrial hand wheels, he’s funny and engaging, and also makes you want to reach into the pages of his book and just offer a hand.

He’s also unabashedly proud of and impressed by the women in his life – and it is that directness and admiration that makes Coop a great gift for a mother, daughter, wife, or friend. It’s not typical chick-lit, not even close, but his writing is so easygoing that reading this book with a cup of coffee on the back porch is something every woman I know would likely enjoy.

I mean, I read it that way, alternating coffee and sips of iced tea, lightly sweetened with local honey.

I’m not sure if Perry has another book planned next, or if he’s going to concentrate on music for a bit, but I eagerly await his next words.

And you should, too.

Review: Truck: A Love Story, by Michael Perry

Truck: a Love Story
Truck: a Love Story
by Michael Perry
Harper Perennial, 320 pages
Get it from Amazon >>

Several days ago in this blog, I mentioned that I had an “author crush” on Michael Perry. I’m currently reading his most recent book, Coop which will be reviewed over at All Things Girl, but I wanted to make sure I talked about the last book of his that I read: Truck: a Love Story.

If the title of the book isn’t enough of a hook, consider that this book really is a love story. Actually it’s three love stories. One, is of the teenage Mike’s love of the fictional character Irma Harding, who was created to be the face of International Harvester, in the 1950s. The second, and the one that provides the continuity in this book, is the author’s love of a vintage International Harvester pickup truck, and his journey through its restoration. The third, most poignant, is of his relationship and eventual marriage to his wife Anneleise, and his fatherly love for her young daughter, Amy.

As usual, Michael Perry tells his story with a lot of warmth and an equal measure of humor. He may be a guy who grew up in rural Wisconsin, but he’s also incredibly bright. Much of the humor is self deprecating – he’s sort of power-tool impaired, for example – but some of it comes from the juxtaposition of a green tea drinking, NPR- and jazz listening writer who is also a fire fighter and amateur farmer.

Because this is a memoir, there really isn’t a plot, but Perry does an excellent job of condensing several events into a coherent narrative.

In short, his memoirs ride the fine line of being candid and creative nonfiction.

And I can’t get enough of them.