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The Jesus Cow

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,931 ratings  ·  368 reviews
New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and big-hearted tale, a comic yet sincere exploration of faith and the foibles of modern life that blends the barbed charm of Garrison Keillor, the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore, and the audacious insight of Chuck Klosterman

Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,931 ratings  ·  368 reviews

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Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
1.5 stars

Pretty much unfunny comedy about a Wisconsin farmer who discovers a calf with a spot that resembles Jesus. Sounded like it would be a laff riot (like a Hiaasen novel) but the one-note hilarity (aimed at overweight, clueless middle-Americans) fell utterly flat for me. It's sad when the reviled Kathleen Hale's No One Else Can Have You, also set in Wisconsin, (and not billed as a comedy) is about ten times as funny as this lackluster eco-humor.
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Started out as a pleasurable and funny romp...ended as a soliloquy on life.

It was fun to try to guess some of the actual names and places that were a part of this Wisconsin story...but I never figured out "Swivel"...

My favorite quote from the book:

" attempt to render existence in terms of perfection," [he said]. "Life is a rough approximation of things hoped for. You need to revel in the misfires. In the scars and dings. You need to develop a taste for regret. It's the malt vinegar of emot
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's unfortunate the blurb doesn't make it clear that this is uniquely Perry. But since not nearly enough ppl know his work, well, I guess the adjectives and comparisons to other, more widely known authors, are somewhat helpful.

I'm such a big fan that I don't know what to say to convince you that this is worth reading. And I can't be objective about its flaws, if indeed it has any. I will say that *I* found the beginning a bit too earnest or something, a bit too much like Perry's essays... but t
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! Set in my home state of Wisconsin, this was not only a humorous story and very entertaining but also brought up some difficult issues surrounding the environment and the state of small towns and farming in Wisconsin. It points out the depth to which people will do go to find solace in religious experience; apparently- any religious experience! Just a very enjoyable read as with Michael Perry's other books.
Jul 19, 2015 rated it liked it
2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book.

At times the author's writing invokes a warm, small town feel which I enjoy, but overall it was a tad too subtly cute for my tastes. The author narrated the book which was wonderful; his Wisconsin accent especially added to the story, and I enjoyed the quirky sense of humor in the novel. With the right synopsis, I would pick up another book by the author.
Favorite Quote: Is there anything sadder than the way a
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Jesus Cow is a backwoods Shakespearean tragedy. On Christmas eve night, Harley Jackson's cow delivers a calf with the face of Jesus Christ birth marked on its side. When word leaks out, his world is turned upside down. The faithful arrive seeking a miracle. Talent Management International swoops in to merchandise the event. Harley quickly finds that the calf he thought he owned now owns him. At times laugh out loud funny, at other times thought provoking, I found the Jesus Cow to be a cozy, ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a fun read! Perry spoofs every segment of American society: the blowhard developer, the failed liberal academic, the monetized religious scams, small town fire departments and more. Perry takes down every sacred cow (every pun intended), but he does it with such gentle humor that the reader loves the characters at the same time s/he is laughing at them.
Brooke Dilling
Jun 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I love Michael Perry as a memoir writer. This book fell a little flat to me. "Write about what you know" they say... So Perry made his "aw-shucks", country bumpkin, son-of-religious-zealots background into a novel of sorts...

It falls a little flat. The characters feel like caricatures... And the reader can see the ending coming like a big flashing ball of light by about chapter 5.

Michael Perry is a great writer. One of my favorites. But this is not his best work.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received a free advance reader's copy of this book at 2015 ALA Midwinter.

I hate saying things about books that I didn't finish, but I am halfway through this and am about to put it down out of boredom and annoyance. This is the first thing I have read by this author and I gather his other works are very enjoyable. So far, I find the character development somewhat trite - and can't entirely figure out if it is intentional social satire or if the characters are just sort of stereotypical (stride
Jun 09, 2015 rated it liked it
Wow! This was a strange book, but not in a bad way. The book was funny and very different.

We’ve all seen or heard about the piece of toast with the image of Jesus, right? Well, Harley Jackson’s cow, who he named Tina Turner, delivers a calf who has a birthmark that looks like Jesus. You can only imagine the uproar that causes for not only for Harley but the whole town. Swivel, Wisconsin. is overrun by the media and everyone within hearing distance of the calf and the birthmark.

The characters wer
Michelle Only Wants to Read
This book took my by surprise. Even though the religious satire and humor were present (and well executed), I found it to be insightful rather than funny. Well, it is very funny, but in a strange way.

The humor is certainly there. The scenario is so far fetched and ridiculous it's almost impossible not to laugh about it, yet there are so many possibilities that something like it would happen at any point with the power of social media, and people's general desire to fill in gaps on anything just
Book Concierge
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book on CD read by the author.

Adapted from the book jacket: Life is suddenly full of drama for 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 [over] his family farm; and inside his barn lies a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. Harley’s best friend, Billy, who tries to pass of country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to sidestep the woman, fight the developer, and get r
Karen Wright
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I found this book amusing and clever. I grew up on a farm and have been in the public relations field (including Crisis Communications). Therefore, I could totally relate to the humor throughout the book. The characters were quirky -- just what you'd expect in a small town, so on that level, I recognized and empathized with the folks. In fact, I found myself comparing the characters to past neighbors we had while I was growing up. There was a bit of a love story woven within -- which takes a num ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I hesitate to rate a book at 5 stars so close to having read it. That rating might fall a star, with some thought, when the high wears off. I enjoyed the hell out of this book, though. This despite feeling an uncomfortable kinship with Harley, the main character. It made me laugh. It upset me about as much as a book has in a while, given how closely Harley's mistakes in one respect mirrored my own.
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
When Harley Jackson's cow Tina Turner gives birth to a calf sporting a Jesus shaped birthmark, on Christmas Eve no less, he knows he's in for trouble. Harley isn't one to go looking for attention, in fact it's exactly the opposite. He loves the quiet life. But as much as he'd like to keep this holy cow under wraps, the calf is soon out of the bag. And with a local land owner harassing Harley in hopes of drawing attention away from his own failing investment, the small time cattle farmer has no c ...more
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
The Jesus Cow
First of all, let me say that I love Michael Perry's nonfiction writing. For instance, Population 485 is among my top 10 favorite books of all time, and I also greatly enjoyed Coop and Visiting Tom. Michael is a master storyteller, as he describes small town life with sympathy, honesty and humor, often poking fun at himself in the process. He also is very adept at the juxtaposition of humor with breathtaking observations on the human condition and our connection to each other.
Pam Bowe
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Honestly I think I appreciated this book more than some because Michael Perry is from my neck of the woods and I have heard him read/speak/present many times. He is so dang real and humorous while being sensitive and so smart. This thinly veiled fictional account is so much about the town of New Auburn and a funny fictional event that I could see really happening in a small town. I laughed many times and also found myself going , "Ahhh, that poor guy." Loved it.
Jessica Pippin
May 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldnt-finish
This was not the quirky, small town drama I was looking for. I made it halfway through the book, and still nothing had happened. It relies too heavily on its characters, which normally would be ideal for me. But these characters were flat and uninteresting. It's too bad. This book had some potential. Love the cover design.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
a quirky book nearly ruined by a dreadful ending. the stark contrast between the end and the rest of the story made me wonder if there was a different editor involved. I hope the final edition that goes to print fixes this problem.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Folksy and very Wisconsin. A calf is born with the image of Jesus Christ in its side and much ballyhoo transpires. This is at times very funny, but it has it poignant moments.
Janelle Bailey
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
33: The Jesus Cow by Michael in anticipation of yesterday's Zoom session with Perry. I have read nearly everything else he's written, but this was his first work of fiction and also the first fiction of his that I've read (I have not yet read The Scavengers, more of a children's book, but will).

This was Michael Perry through and through, though, with several characters and their situations reminiscent to this reader of Perry's own realities and family members and theirs, except for
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up because it made me laugh and this is an author local to where I grew up. This book made me laugh, which makes it special. It also reminded of growing up in small town Wisconsin. Nearly all of it was like a warm, comforting blanket, but then, the ending happened. In the last chapter, everything happens incredibly quickly, to tie up all possible storylines, and some characters act out of character. It was frustrating and disappointing.

The audiobook was recorded in Fall Creek,
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
I really enjoy Michael Perry's non-fiction writing. I approached this fiction work of his with some hesitancy. First of all, the title. I was a little concerned it would be irreverent, which would be a turn off for me. Secondly, I'm usually hard to please when a writer I enjoy branches out into a different genre. As I would have hoped, Perry shows respect and gratitude for Christians of deep faith, yet adheres to the doubt and distance he expresses in his memoirs. As for this foray into fiction, ...more
Pop Bop
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Not Just Some Rural Farce

I figured that between a Jesus cow, some stereotypical characters, and a generous load of hayseed humor this book was just going to be an occasionally amusing high end "Hee Haw". Well, forgive me for being a jaundiced snot. This is certainly a very funny book, but it is also sly, edgy, insightful, and both measured and good-hearted in its cutting satire.

You can't do this sort of book right unless you understand who and what you're working over. Although he's a masterly w
Evanston Public  Library
Shy bachelor Harley Jackson walks into his barn on Christmas Eve to discover his lone milk cow standing with her newborn calf who, disconcertingly, has the face of Jesus on his side. "That's trouble," Harley immediately recognizes. Harley lives in the house in which he grew up, loves his place in his small town, loves the familiarity of it all even if he is a bit lonely so his solution is to try to hide the calf. It doesn't work.This sly first novel assembles a cast of characters who are funny, ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I am a big fan of Michael Perry's previous books, but his first novel is a bit clunky and has some strange pacing. The book is at its best when it explores small-town life (Perry's familiar subject) and finds the gentle humor in its characters and the idiosyncrasies of rural life. There is some lovely writing in it, and Perry's writing is always joyful and fun even as the plot flails around.

[I received an advanced copy of this novel. It will be published May 19, 2015.]
May 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I was hoping, based on the opening lines, that this would be a hysterically irreverent and absurd story. Irreverent, yes. Absurd, not so much (except inasmuch as it throws light on similar real-life scenarios). Hysterical, no. HOWEVER, it was still an enjoyable read. A caveat: due to its (overall cynical) exploration of faith practices, beliefs, etc. it may not appeal to everyone.
Brook Packard
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
If Carl Hiaassen had a northern midwest doppelganger, it would be Michael Perry. Rarely does a book have me simultaneously laughing out loud, turning pages to see what's coming next, and pausing to contemplate life's Great Truths.
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
It was OK. I kept hoping it would get better or at least live up to the great title. It did pick up the pace about 3/4 of the way through but by then I just wanted to be done with it.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy Calf!

The Jesus Cow is set in fictional small rural Swivel, Wisconsin. On Christmas Eve, single guy Harley Jackson's cow, Tina Turner, gives birth to a bull calf. To his dismay, the flank of the calf is marked with the face of Jesus Christ. As Harley, comments "that's trouble."

And so begins Harley's frightening, often amusing, philosophical, and sobering adventure as a man unwillingly thrust into the limelight. At first Harley tries to hide the calf from all but his best friend and advisor B
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Play Book Tag: The Jesus Cow / Michael Perry - 4**** 4 21 Feb 20, 2017 11:30AM  

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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

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