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18 July 2014


Thank you for saving me from this one, CR--not that I really had any desire to read it. As a farmer's daughter from a rural Wisconsin town myself, I second the shout-out to Michael Perry's work. His characters are actual small-town WI folks. (Also, Mike's an acquaintance of mine, and I can vouch that he is as humble and funny in real life as he is in his books.) Great review!

Oh, you're welcome, Carrie. Actually, it's one of those books I hated so much I actually WANT people to read it and then talk it over with me. At one point the author references the farmer character getting blisters on his hands from 36 holes of golf--as a farmer's daughter, does that seem right to you?

Oh, Michael Perry. I've gone to see his readings and my parents have met his parents (who are wonderful, just wonderful), so yeah, I'll do anything to get people reading his books. (Which stand on their own merits--good characterization AND good writing, the total package.)

Thank you for the insight! I kind of felt like I should read it after all the positive press I've been seeing, but really didn't want care whether I read it or not.
I third the shout-out to Michael Perry! Love his works!

Well, "insight" might be a bit strong--"cranky opinion" might be closer to the mark. But I am just a bit puzzled by all the glowing press. Particularly because some of the reviews say things like, "well, it's clunky in parts, but it's got so much heart you overlook that" (I'm paraphrasing), which I thought was way more generous than book critics often are.

So glad to see so many Michael Perry fans out there, too! Thanks for that.

This book sounds painful, and your review is making me laugh. I particularly like the real-life getting-ready-for-a-wedding scenario. I've lived the Midwestern garbageman's daughter version of that scene.

Glad you liked the wedding scenario. For the life of me I can't remember my farmer parents doing a whole lot of little slow dances after getting ready to go somewhere. I do remember someone backing the car out of the garage in such a hurry to get going that they took an open back door off the car, but very few slow dances.

Let's hear it for your garbageman roots. Now THERE is another group of workers who would not get blisters on their hands from golfing, I'd bet.

I agree. It's pretty awful. And when you and I share an opinion about a work of fiction, the world needs to sit up and take note.

I'm not quite done with it. I broke my ironfast rule against listening to novels because I read a crazy-strong review of the audiobook. I have about an hour of listening left and I've decided I'd rather scoop the litterbox and fold the laundry in silence. Probably I should find a print copy and skim my way through to the end. Like you, I want closure.

I wanted to like the story because I like Wisconsin a lot. But I'm not getting a very strong sense of place. That alone could have gone a long way toward redeeming the characters and the dull "insights" that constitute plot. The small-town atmosphere is done well, but it is a generic small-town atmosphere. It doesn't feel Wisconsinish at all.

Well, thank you, Lesbrarian, finally we agree on a novel, and I couldn't be happier.

Although sorry you got stuck listening to something you didn't enjoy. Email me and I can tell you the ending if you really need closure.

I like Wisconsin too, but also didn't think this book did it justice. Unless of course you think WI is a state of small towns full of (good old) Boy Men who can't get past their high school loves for one another. And maybe it is. Actually there was only one chapter in this book I liked, and that was Kip's, talking about how he never felt quite a part of the group. Did you get that far?

Incidentally, have you ever read "All About Lulu," (that I reference at the very end)? That strikes me as a book you might like--maybe. 99% of the time we have divergent tastes, after all!

huh, I ordered this and it fell completely off my radar. It's circulating well, though.

I looked at the publisher's blurb and this line jumped out at me: "It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too--not just fallible and compromising."

That's enough to make me wanna punch the book in the face, right there.

Being a small town Midwestern (SD, IA, MN) girl myself I had this on my mental to-read list. I'll find something else to read instead. Have you seen the movie Nebraska? ROFL. Those people could have been my extended family, and the town one of many I've been to. Ya, sure, youbetcha


Your comment is some strong, American stuff, by the way. It should be a bestseller!

Well, honestly, now I find myself more curious than ever about what actual Midwesterners think of this book. You betcha! If you ever read it pop onto any post and let me know what you thought (I have to close my comments on each post after a couple of weeks, otherwise I get slammed by spam.) And thanks for the movie suggestion--I'll look into it!

Serendipity! I visited your page today to see if you had ever written anything about Perry - and there's a reference just days old. I'd never heard of him, but a road trip through Wisconsin required finding some Wis. writers or settings. I couldn't believe I'd missed this author. But now I have a backlog to catch up on.

Thanks for the real description of getting ready to go to a wedding -- or anywhere else for that matter!

So "Shotgun" is to Wisconsin what "Bridges of Madison County" is to Iowa?

Oh, DO read Michael Perry. All his books are good (including his essay collections) but I still say Population: 485, his memoir, is the best.

Yes, I'd like to meet the couple (especially if they have kids--which the couple in Shotgun Lovesongs did have, although you hardly ever saw them) who has the time for lovey-dovey conversations while getting ready to go somewhere.

You mean "Bridges of Madison County" wasn't an accurate description of Iowa, or the Midwest, either? I'm shocked! Take it I shouldn't read that one? I never did get around to it.

Good thing you missed it. So much purple prose. The movie was pretty good though. 485 reminded me, as your site does, that I need to read more nonfiction.

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