People attending renown author Michael Perry’s "Clodhopper Monologues" Saturday night at the Heyde Center in Chippewa Falls didn’t hear much about Perry’s books.
And that was just fine with them.
Perry, whose book "Visiting Tom," released in August, became a New York Times best-seller, didn’t spend much time reading from that work or his other hit titles, which include "Population 485," "Truck: A Love Story," and "Coop." Instead, the rural Fall Creek author, donning his typical everyman flannel shirt over a T-shirt, blue jeans and black work boots, told one humorous tale after another, describing the his life as a sometimes absent-minded writer, father of two daughters, and well-intentioned snowplow driver who once inadvertently plowed a new path through the yard of one of his neighbors, acclaimed musician Justin Vernon, missing Vernon’s driveway in the process.
Perhaps Perry’s most enjoyable tale was about a magazine story he wrote that never appeared in print, a story in which country boy Perry agreed to get a fancy makeover, New York-style. He described in laugh-inducing detail his receiving a full-service shave, a manicure, a pedicure and a haircut. The haircut, as Perry acknowledged, is a stretch, given his nearly bald pate. Never mind that it cost $80 and was administered by a hyperkinetic, dancing barber. Then, most improbably of all, Perry received a spray tan. Hardly country boy fare, but damn entertaining to hear about, told comically in Perry’s understated, witty way.
Perry finally got to one of his books -- his newest one -- at the end of his presentation. He discussed the process of writing about 82-year-old Tom Hartwig (not his real name) and how book subjects share of themselves when they agree to be interviewed by authors.
Happily for those in attendance at Saturday’s performance, Perry was willing to do the same with his audience.