Patrick Gibson's Reviews > The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
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Sep 27, 2010

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bookshelves: humorous, truth_sort-of
Read from September 27 to October 02, 2010

I guess comparisons to the TV series Green Acres are inevitable. Sure there are colorful local folk but they are not rubes. The lead characters are both from rural heritages and not the befuddled city slickers that got their comeuppance by the locals on an ongoing basis like the moronic show. This is a heartfelt fish out of water tale with surprising depth of character and sincere earnestness. And lots of self-deprecating humor.

Author Josh Kilmer-Purcell is a Type A advertising executive and best-selling memoir writer/contributor to the gay publication Out Magazine who has fallen under the spell of Oprah. His long-time partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, is a Type A physician who is working for Martha Stewart's empire where he is a frequent on-air contributor to her television program as well as her fussiest disciple. As Josh writes, "He was Martha Stewart Living. I was Living My Best Life."

As part of their traditions as a couple, once a year they leave Manhattan and drive upstate for apple-picking. On one of these excursions they wind up in Sharon Springs, NY where, by accident they find the Beekman Mansion, a 19th Century classic home that just happens to be for sale.

Quicker than you can say "You go girls" the guys decide to buy the house with the goal of ultimately giving up The Big Apple for the apple orchard on the property and living a more authentic life as their lives barrel towards the dreaded age of 40 ("It was the growing realization of the half of my life that was gone that was making me so determined to enjoy the half that was left of it.")

Then comes the 2008 and the economic meltdown that throws both their lives into hyper-drive.

"The Bucolic Plague" is the story of how they succeeded and failed both personally and professionally, as they made the transition from gay culture to agriculture, including ghosts, goats and goats' milk soap, a cow named Cow, zombie flies, heirloom vegetables, Wabi Sabi, marimbas and a boom or bust Internet website and a Cable TV show "The Fabulous Beekman Boys which I found accidently surfing (I mean, come on, does anyone watch Planet Green, or Green Planet, or whatever the hell it’s called?) and liked enough to watch the whole series and ultimately find this book.

A quick and enjoyable read with a big heart imbued by Kilmer-Purcell's well written acerbic, skewed, hilarious point of view, "The Bucolic Plague" is honest, unfussy and well worth rolling up your sleeves and harvesting its pleasures.
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