Population, 485

Population, 485

Meeting your Neighbors One Siren at A Time

Book - 2007
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Mike Perry's extraordinary and thoughtful account of meeting the people of his small hometown by joining the fire and rescue team was a breakout hit that "swells with unadorned heroism" (USA Today)

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485) where 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.

Tracing his calls on a map in the little firehouse, he sees "a dense, benevolent web, spun one frantic zigzag at a time" from which the story of a tiny town emerges.

Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, 2007, c2002
Edition: 1st Haper Perennial ed
ISBN: 9780061363504
Characteristics: x, 234, 20 p. ; 20 cm


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Sep 26, 2012

Wonderful book, a keeper, I'm going to buy it!

Oct 05, 2006

You know that small, faded town you pass through on your way to Somewhere Else? These are the folks who live there. Having grown up in New Auburn, Wisconsin, but moving away to make his way in the world, writer Michael Perry returns home some years later and joins the local fire department as a way of reconnecting with his community. In the book he alternates between relating his experiences as a small-town volunteer firefighter and first-responder and giving fleeting glimpses into the lives and personalities of some of his teammates and fellow residents. The detailed emergency calls were fun to read about, but more than once I made the mistake of reading while having lunch! I generally don't pick up many non-fiction books, but I read this as part of the "Eden Prairie Reads" community program (www.epreads.org).


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