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Off Main Street: Barnstormers, Prophets & Gatemouth's Gator: Essays

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  349 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Whether he’s fighting fires, passing a kidney stone, hammering down I-80 in an 18-wheeler, or meditating on the relationship between cowboys and God, Michael Perry draws on his rural roots and footloose past to write from a perspective that merges the local with the global.

Ranging across subjects as diverse as lot lizards, Klan wizards, and small-town funerals, Perry’s wri
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 28th 2016 by Harper Perennial (first published April 1st 2005)
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Dec 13, 2013 Brendan rated it liked it
Michael Perry can string together sentences and paragraphs with the best of them. His clever turns of phrase flow together in a steady stream that would rival the Chippewa River. And yet, the perspective and tone of Perry's clever phrases often waver, diminishing the impact of his collection of columns and short essays.

Not content to play either the small-town rube or the know-it-all city slicker, Perry puts one mud-caked boot in each role. The resultant back-and-forth can practically cause whi
Dec 31, 2008 Trin rated it liked it
Essays by the author of Population: 485. I loved that book; it was one of my favorite things I read this year. This book is not nearly as good. It’s really just a collection of some random magazine articles Perry wrote over the years, some of which are quite interesting, others not so much. A lot of them are about trucks. I used to edit car magazines for a living, and I have to say, when I’m not getting paid for it, reading essays about engines is not something I really want to spend time doing ...more
Mike Prochot
Sep 10, 2012 Mike Prochot rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading Michael Perry - his eclectic tastes and interests mirror my own.

This collection of essays, while some are rehashed, does not disappoint.

We can choose to go through life simply staring at the images flashing past our eyes, or we can stop and investigate. Get down, get dirty, get involved, ask questions, participate and learn something, grow our own perspective - enjoy the experience - learn to appreciate our differences, laugh recognizably at our similiarities and realize that t
Andrea Belka
Jun 04, 2014 Andrea Belka rated it really liked it
Several of the essays made me smile. Some made me laugh out loud. I didn't engage with some of the semi-truck stuff.
Jan 15, 2016 SouthWestZippy rated it it was ok
Did not finish, stopped reading on page 81. A collection of short stories.
May 02, 2013 Allison rated it it was ok
Although I absolutely loved "Population: 485" this collection of essays didn't give me the same satisfaction. There were moments though. One of my favorite moments was this description of attending the funeral of an elderly neighbor:
"Looking on from the backmost pew, I was swept by the thought of this unassuming man as the nexus of so much love, and I cried a little. I felt self-conscious later, afraid someone might think I was appropriating the family's grief for a man I hardly knew. But I was
Shonna Froebel
Dec 09, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of essay type articles, updated with comments. The articles were all previously published. I've liked everything I've read by Perry and this is no exception.
The subjects covered here are wide-ranging and include traveling with musicians, passing a kidney stone, water towers, truck-driving, and God.
Sometimes making me laugh out loud and look around for someone to share a bit with, this book is never dull and often thought-provoking.
Highly recommended.
Dave Hoff
May 24, 2016 Dave Hoff rated it liked it
After reading 3 of Mike's books, and waiting to read his 4th, I thought i'd read his collection of short stories. My feelings ranged from "why am I reading this" to "this is very funny". But with a dictionary on my knees, (he's a user of big words), I'm a better man than you, Gunga Din. Horse riding;"I've seen drag racers throwing fire 35 ft. and burn rubber for a quarter mile, but this horse made them look like a Rambler with bad clutch plates". a sample.
Jun 06, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Favorite quotes:

"War is a morally repulsive business, and when the fog of battle clears, we are quick to consign the details to history and myth. But the veterans are the details that walk among us."

"That history grows toward the past, but it is born in the present - a fact that implicates each of us in the shape of the future."

"We spring from a thicket of tangents.
Deborah Stevens
Feb 05, 2015 Deborah Stevens rated it really liked it
Eclectic, well-expressed, full of humor and heart.
Apr 09, 2013 Julia rated it really liked it
Michael Perry lives in a small town near Eau Claire, WI, and writes about small town life. This is a collection of his essays, most of which have been published in some other form. I enjoy his writing in part because I am familiar with the area about which he writes, and because I grew up in a small midwestern town, so I can identify with much of what he writes about.
Mar 04, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Have seen Michael Perry onstage three times and there is nothing like hearing him tell his stories in person, but reading his books is almost as much fun. Funny, touching, and of course, living in the same general neck of the woods makes many of his stories familiar. (His kidney stone story is all too familiar for my husband but you gotta laugh.)
Nancy Seaman
Sep 20, 2013 Nancy Seaman rated it really liked it
Stories by a Wisconsin farm boy, trained to be a nurse, and now a free lance writer. Highly recommended for those times when you want a relaxed evening hearing a friendly guy tell stories about where he's been and what he's done. Deceptively simple writing with just the right details to make places and people real.
Jim Lyke
Dec 06, 2015 Jim Lyke rated it liked it
Michael Perry is always entertaining to read. This collection of his early essays is a little of a mixed bag, as some pieces show him clearly in the process of finding and developing his literary voice. That said, Perry's talent and turn of a phrase still shine through, making this a worthwhile read.
Jan 25, 2013 Patty rated it really liked it
I just love Michael Perry, but I was a little disappointed in this book until I got to Part IV and then I fell in love all over again. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of the essays. They just aren't as compelling, over all, as his other collections.
Dec 18, 2009 Alissa rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2009
Well now I've read everything by Michael Perry. This was an interesting collection of essays. I had no idea how diverse his early writing experience was. I especially liked the road stories about Sara Evans and Aaron Tippen.
Heather C.
Dec 11, 2008 Heather C. rated it it was ok
I am glad that I read Mike Perry's books in reverse chronological order because I enjoyed this one the least. His writing has developed into something much better, and I'm happy for that for any of his future writings.
Dawn Anderson
Apr 21, 2008 Dawn Anderson rated it it was amazing
A great collection of essays. I preferred some more than others just because of the topics addressed, but even the ones I didn't LOVE were really good, well-written, thought-provoking. On to Truck, A Love Story...
Mar 14, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Enjoyed it, but can see the progression made between it and his later books. This is by no means bad, but his later books are better. I guess that sort of progression is a good thing!
Apr 10, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, humor, essays
Perry has a way of taking the everyday and making it sing, and he respects older things and people as well as the modern. Wish I had his way with words!
Nov 10, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
This was a compilation of essays, some of which had been published elsewhere. I wasn't as interested in the stories about trucking, but it was good.
Kevin N Wiklund
Sep 09, 2016 Kevin N Wiklund rated it it was amazing
always insightful. sometimes funny, sometimes sad. great foundation to see how his life and writing experience has evolved
May 04, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Michael Perry is a brilliant writer--insightful, artful, funny, wise. I will read more of him.
Oct 05, 2009 Laurelyn rated it liked it
Shelves: suspended
* suspended because my parents own it and I haven't been home since June. I would like to finish it eventually...
Feb 23, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a great book for storytelling. I love how Perry embraces his roots while thinking deeply at the same time.
Mar 16, 2010 Andrea rated it liked it
I got sick of all the essays on truckers, but overall it was pretty good. I want to reread Population 485.
Nov 14, 2009 Keith rated it it was amazing
all sorts of great essays from Perry's career writing for various magazines and such.
Jan 01, 2013 Deb rated it it was amazing
Love Michael Perry's way of seeing life and his wonderful way with words.
Jan 23, 2013 Joan rated it really liked it
Mostly well written up to E. B. white but pretty good.
Jan 14, 2013 Joan rated it liked it
some good, some great, some so-so....a tiny bit disappointed overall.
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Michael Perry is a New York Times bestselling author, humorist and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin.

Perry’s bestselling memoirs include Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. Raised on a small Midwestern dairy farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a ranch in Wyoming, then wound up writing by happy accident. He lives with his wife and two da
More about Michael Perry...

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“Cynicism is overrated, and far too easy. In small doses, cynicism--like irony--provides an essential tempering quality. But to wallow in it, and to dismiss things like hope and faith, is cowardly and unoriginal.” 4 likes
“Like a thickening woman, one halter top strap off the shoulder, like a man adjusting his thin hair while his sports car idles, there is evidence that summer is going to seed, leaving you to nurse regret through the fall, the season of penitence.” 0 likes
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